(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Wilson's American ornithology : with notes by Jardine ; to which is added a synopsis of American birds, including those described by Bonaparte, Audubon, Nuttall, and Richardson"

'i'i^^S 







XTNIVERSITY OF PITTSBtTRGH 




Darlington Alemonai Library 



• • • 



• r • % 




/;('o./l-mr/,<-n dot. .yrT./Uiy,!,- H.Mfin/r .J/K'i'.tmiy ri,<iUr,'p^ ,7c^7/.Vv/ /.' .Hi'. U'iLrm.s' rivxvr.:ilUih,<k- 
/y'//t)»/ /frirti'r. .Hl'./hfnii/.- /L JLHi'mU Ahri/ieiri /fiur.l/Ul/in-/; fuxuliH O'liU ..UU.Ullv Jul: . 







I'.ifs-'crjib'PdlibT 



''■'r/M 













WILSON'S 
AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY, 

WITH 

NOTES BY JARDINE: 

TO WHICH IS ADDED 

A SYNOPSIS OF AMERICAN BIRDS, 

INCLUDING THOSE DESCRIBED 
BY 

BONAPARTE, AUDUBON, NUTTALL, AND 
RICHARDSON; 

By T. M. brewer. 



BOSTON: 

OTIS, BROADERS, AND COMPANY. 

1840. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839; by 

Thomas M. Brewer, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 



STEREOTYPED AT THE 
BOSTON TYPE AND STEREOTYPE FOU>rDRY. 



ADVERTISEMENT 



tskj^ The want of an edition of Wilson's Ornithology, adapted 

^ to general circulation, has long been felt in the United States. 

>. While several popular editions have been published in Europe, 

' there has been none here, except the original one, and an- 

jj other, with slight modifications; both of which, on account of 

"1^ their costliness, have been necessarily excluded from the hands 

V of many who might desire to possess or peruse Wilson's work. 

y The present work is designed to supply this want, and it is 

^ hoped it may serve at once to extend the fame of the author, 

\ to give a wider scope to the influence of his genius, and pro- 

<;-N mote an interest in the study of American ornithology. 

To accomplish these objects, the original work of Wilson 
I has been followed, adding thereto the copious and valuable 
^ notes of Jardine. In order, however, to present a complete 
^ view of the birds of North America, a Synopsis has been ap- 
pended, including all the birds described by Wilson, Nuttall, 
M^^ Bonaparte, Audubon, and Richardson. The Synopsis has 
^j^ been prepared solely with a view to supply, so far as could be 
rs^ done within such narrow limits, that which is wanting in the 
^ original text of Wilson. A brief explanation of the plan upon 
$ry which it has been prepared, may not, therefore, be out of 

place. 
J It will be seen that the Synopsis comprises the names, both 
scientific and otherwise, of all the birds now known to exist in 
North America, arranged according to their natural affinities. 
Wherever birds have been fully described in the preceding 
pages, it has been deemed necessary to refer only to the works 
of American ornithologists, who have also given their history. 



? 



iv ADVERTISEMENT. 

Where this has been imperfectly given, such additional facts 
relative to their manner of breeding, etc., as the space ad- 
mitted, have been added ; and where the bird was not known 
to Wilson, a brief scientific description has been appended. 

I should be guilty of great injustice, were I to omit to add 
how much I have been assisted by the labors and writings of 
the illustrious Audubon. With his free and generous consent, 
I have been permitted to draw from the materials which his 
industry and perseverance had prepared to my hands, and 
without which I could have done but little. Whatever merits, 
therefore, may appear in my labors, will, I trust, be attributed 
to the source to which they are rightly due. It will also be 
seen that in the arrangement by genera and families, the 
present Synopsis owes a great deal to that of Mr. Audubon. 
Tt, however, differs in two material points. The latter has no 
division by orders. The omission is an important one, and it 
was deemed advisable to supply it. I have also judged it 
inexpedient to imitate the needless subdivisions into genera, 
which is the prevailing fault in modern ornithology. Without 
entering into a discussion of this controverted question, I have 
only to urge, in defence of my adhesion except in such instances 
as it appeared wrong to do so, to old genera — my conviction 
that the present mode of subdivision, instead of tending to 
simplify science, as its advocates assert, but adds to the difficul- 
ties of the beginner, ayd serves to discourage his efforts to 
master the subject. 

In fine, I would venture to submit this brief catalogue of the 
birds of North America, with the assurance, which justice 
compels me to make, that its merits, if it has any, are due to 
others ; its faults — and I am aware of its deficiencies — are 
partly mine, and partly those of my narrow limits. 

T. M. B. 



CONTENTS 



Page. 

Auk, Little, 658 

Avoset, American, 539 

, Long-legged, 490 

Bittern, American, 558 

, Least, 560 

Blue Bird, 37 

Brant, 621 

Bunting, Bay-winged, 296 

, Black-throated, 36 

, Cow, 187 

, Painted, 234 

, Rice, 129 

, Snow, 212 

, Towhe, 121 

, , (Fem^e,) 459 

, White-crowned, 295 

Butcher Bird, 49 

Buzzard, American, 452 

, Turkey, 660 

Cat Bird, 157 

Cedar Bird, 70 

Chat, Yellow-breasted, 60 

Chuck- Will's Widow, 462 

Coot, Cinereous, 633 

Crane, Blue, 534 

, Whooping, 548 

Creeper, Black and White, 205 

, Brown, 81 

Crossbill, American, 291 

, White-winged, 294 

Crow, 318 

, Carrion, 667 

A* 



Page. 

Crow, Clark's, 209 

, Fish, 343 

Cuckoo, Black-billed, 269 

, Yellow-billed, 267 

Curlew, Esquimaux, 473 

, Long-billed, 550 

Darter, Black-bellied, 644 

, , (Female,).. 647 

Diver, Great Northern, 648 

Dove, Ground, 409 

, Turtle, 388 

Duck, Black or Surf, 567 

, Buffel-headed, 568 

, Canvass-Back, 603 

, Dusky, 626 

, Eider, 615 

, , (Female,) 617 

, Harlequin, 625 

, Long-tailed, 596 

, , (Female,). . .597 

, Pied, 594 

, Pintail, 582 

, Red-headed, 607 

, Ruddy, 619 

, , (Female,) 620 

, Scaup, 590 

, Scoter, 623 

, Summer, 598 

, Tufted, 574 

, Velvet, 624 

. Wood, 598 



Eagle, White-headed or Bald,. . .325 



VI 



CONTENTS. 



Page. 

Eagle, Ring-tailed, 467 

,Sea, 469 

Falcon, Rough-legged, 302 

, Winter, 314 

Finch, Pine, 180 

, Purple, 79, 386 

■ , Savannah, 313 

, Sea-Side, 311 

, Sharp-tailed, 312 

Flamingo, Red, 565 

Flycatcher, Canada, 253 

, Great-crested, 147 

, GreenBlack-capped,255 

, Hooded, 254 

, Pewit, 149 

, Red-eyed, 133 

, Small Blue-gray,. . .199 

, Small Green-crested,148 

, Small-headed, 443 

, Solitary, 186 

, Tyrant, 140 

, Warbling, 385 

, White-eyed, 200 

, WoodPewee, 151 

, Yellow-throated, 77 

Gadwall 614 

Gallinule, Purple, 637 

Godwit, Great Marbled, 479 

, Telltale, 495 

Golden Eye, 575 

Goldfinch, 7 

Goosander, 579 

, (Female,) 581 

Goose, Canada, 570 

, Snow, 585 

, , (Young) 593 

Grakle, Purple, 217 

, Rusty, 216 

Grosbeak, Blue, 240 

, Cardinal, 123 

, Pine, 53 

, Rose-breasted, 182 



Page. 

Grouse, Pinnated, 256 

, Ruffed, 430 

Gull, Black-headed, 652 

Hawk, American Sparrow,. 171, 300 

, Ash-colored or Black-cap,453 

, Black, 455, 456 

, Broad-winged, 460 

,Fish, 334 

, Great-footed, 677 

, Marsh, 445 

, Night, 371 

, Pigeon, 166 

, Red-shouldered, 457 

, Red-tailed, 450 

, Sharp-shinned, 404 

, Slate-colored, 407 

, Swallow-tailed, 447 

, White-breasted, 452 

Heron, Great, 554 

, White, 527 

, Green, 522 

, Louisiana, 542 

, Night, 524 

, Snowy, 536 

, Yellow-crowned, 5.52 

Humming Bird, 115 

Ibis, Scarlet, 563 

, White, 564 

, Wood, 561 

Indigo Bird, 66 

Jay, Blue, 1 

, Canada, 211 

Kingsfisher, Belted, 227 

Kite, Mississippi, 241 

Lark, Brown, 387 

, Meadow, 203 

, Shore, 57 

Loon, 643 



COxNTENTS. 



Page. 

Magpie, 31G 

Mallard, 608 

Martin, Purple, 365 

, Sand, 358 

Merganser, Hooded, 586 

, Red-breasted, 588 

Mocking Bird, 107 

Nun, White, 618 

Nuthatch, Brown-headed, 165 

, Red-bellied, Black- 
capped, 27 

, White-breasted, Black- 
capped, 24 



Oriole, Baltimore, 10 

, , (Female,) . . . .458 

, Orchard, 43 

Osprey , 334 

Owl, Barred, 304 

, Great Horned, 435 

, Hawk, 444 

, Little, 309 

, Long-eared, 449 

, Mottled, 201 

, Red, 383 

, Short-eared, 307 

, Snow, 297 

, White or Barn, 440 

Oyster-Catcher, Pied, 543 

Parrot, Carolina, 246 

Partridge, 413 

Petrel, Stormy, 517 

Phalarope, Gray, 640 

, Red, 642 

Pigeon , Carolina, 388 

, Passenger, 394 

Plover, Black-bellied, 486 

, Golden, 505 

, Kildcer, 507 

, Ring, 500 

, Ringed, 345 

, Ruddy, 541 



Page 

Plover, Sanderling, 503 

, Wilson's, 643 

Purre, 484 

Qua Bird, 524 

Quail, 413 

Rail, 418 

, Clapper, 531 

, Virginian, 529 

Raven, 673 

Red Bird, Summer, 63 

Red Poll, Lesser, 288 

Redstart, 405 

, American, 68 

Robin, 20 

Sandpiper, Ash-colored, 482 

, Bartram's, 499 

, Little, 347 

, Red-backed, 475 

, Red-breasted, 487 

, Semipalmated, 542 

, Solitary, 493 

, Spotted, 497 



Sheerwater, 514 

Shoveller, 577 

Shrike, Great American, 49 

, Loggerhead, 225 



Skimmer, Black, 514 

Smew, 618 

Snake Bird, 644, 647 

Snipe, 411,495 

, Red-breasted, 488 

, Semipalmated, 477 

, Yellow Shanks, 495 



Snow Bird, 178 

Sparrow, Chipping, 177 

, Field, 174 

, Fox-colored, 223 

, Savannah, 224 

, Song, 176 

, Swamp, 220 

, Tree, 175 



VIU 



CONTENTS. 



Page. 

Sparrow, White-throated, 222 

: , Yellow- winged, 239 

Spoonbill, Roseate, 538 

Starling, Red-winged, 281 

Swallow, Bank, 358 

, Barn, 348 

, Chimney, . , 359 

, Green, Blue, or White- 
bellied, 356 

Tanager, Louisiana, 207 

, Scarlet, 125 

Teal, Blue- winged, 583 

, Green- winged, 601 

Tern, Great, 509 

, Lesser, 511 

, Marshy, 630 

, Short-tailed, 513 

, Sooty, 632 

Thrush, Ferruginous, 152 

, Golden-crowned, 155 

, Hermit, 391 

, Tawny, 392 

, Water, 233 

, Wood, 15 

Titmouse, Black-capped, 91 

, Crested, 92 

Turnstone, 480 

Vulture, Black, 667 

, Turkey, 660 

Warbler, Autumnal, 232 

, Bay-breasted, 161 

, Blackburnian, 231 

, Black Poll, 287, 466 

, Black and Yellow,. . . .231 

, Black-throated Blue,. .170 

, Black-throated Green,.] 83 

, Blue-eyed Yellow,. . . .169 

, Blue-green, 265 

, Blue Mountain, 402 

, Blue- winged Yellow,.. 167 



Page. 
Warbler, Blue Yellow-Back,... .270 

, Cape May, 465 

, Cerulean, ^185 

, Chestnut-sided, 162 

, Connecticut, 370 

, Golden-winged, 170 

, Hemlock, 403 

, Kentucky, 244 

, Mourning, 163 

, Nashville, 266 

, Pine Creeping, 206 

, Pine Swamp, 393 

, Prairie, 245 

, Prothonotary, 236 

, Tennessee, 243 

, Worm-eating, 237 

, Yellow Red-Poll, 271 

, Yellow-Rump, 406 

, Yellow-rumped, 184 

-, Yellow-Throat, 139 



Whippoorwill, 376 

Widgeon, American, 591 

Woodcock, 426 

Woodpecker, Downy, 104 

, Gold- winged, 29 

, Hairy, 102 

• , Ivory -billed, 272 

, Lewis's, 210 

, Pileated, 279 

, Red-bellied, 75 

, Red-cockaded,.. . .164 

, Red-headed, 96 

, Yellow-bellied,. . .100 



Wren, Great Carolina, 137 

, Golden-crested, 84 

, House, 87 

, Marsh, 135 

, Ruby-crowned, 55 

, Winter, 94 

Yellow Bird, 7 

Yellow Throat, Maryland,.. .59, 198 



SYNOPSIS, 682. 



WILSON'S 
AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGY, 



BLUE JAY. — CORVUS CRISTATUS. — Fig. 1. 

Linn. Sijst. i. p. 157, 158. — Garrulus Canadensis coeruleus, Briss. ii. p. 54, 2. t. 4. 
fig. 2. — Pica glandaria cristata, Klein, p. 61,3. — Le geay bleu du Canada, Buff. 
iih p. 120. PL enl. 529. — Blue Jay, CatesL Car. i. 15. — Edw. 239. — Arct. Zool. 
ii. No. SS. — Lath. Syn.'u p. 386, ^O. — Bartram^p.'IdO.^Peak's Museum, 
No. 1290. 

OARRVLUS CRISTATUS. — Y1E1LL.0T. 

Garrulus crislatus, VieilL Gat. des Ois. pi. 102. — North. Zool. iL p. 293. — Bonap. 
Synop. No. 63. — Pica cristata, Wagl. No. 8. 

This elegant bird, which, as far as I can learn, is peculiar to North 
America, is distinguished as a kind of beau among the feathered ten- 
ants of our woods, by the brilliancy of his dress ; and, like most other 
coxcombs, makes himself still more conspicuous by his loquacity, and 
the oddness of his tones and gestures. The Jay measures eleven inches 
in length ; the head is ornamented with a crest of light blue or purple 
featherSjwhich he can elevate 6r depress at pleasure ; a narrow line of 
black runs along the frontlet, rising on each side higher than the eye, 
but not passing over it, as Catesby has represented, and as Pennant 
and many others have described it ; back and upper part of the neck 
a fine light purple, in which the blue predominates ; a collar of black, 
proceeding from the hind head, passes with a graceful curve down 
each side of tlie neck to the upper part of the breast, where it forms 
a crescent ; chin, cheeks, throat, and belly, white, the three former 
slightly tinged with blue ; greater wing-coverts, a rich blue ; exterior 
sides of the primaries, light blue, those of the secondaries, a deep pur- 
ple, except the three feathers next the body, which are of a splendid light 
blue ; all these, except the primaries, are beautifully barred with 
crescents of black, and tipped with white ; the interior sides of the 
wing-feathers are dusky black; tail long and cuneiform, composed 
of twelve feathers of a glossy light blue, marked at half inches with 
transverse curves of black, each feather being tipped with white, 
except the two middle ones, which deepen into a dark purple at the 
extremities ; breast and sides under the wings, a dirty white, faintly 



2 BLUE JAY. 

stained with purple ; inside of the mouth, the tongue, bill, legs, and 
claws, black ; iris of the eye, hazel. 

The Blue Jay is an almost universal inhabitant of the woods, fre- 
quenting the thickest settlements as well as the deepest recesses of 
the forest, where his squalling voice often alarms the deer, to the 
disappointment and mortification of the hunter ; one of whom informed 
me, that he made it a point, in summer, to kill every Jay he could 
meet with. In the charming season of spring, when every thicket 
pours forth harmony, the part performed by the Jay always catches 
the ear. He appears to be among his fellow-musicians what the 
trumpeter is in a band, some of his notes having no distant resem- 
blance to the tones of that instrument. These he has the faculty of 
changing through a great variety of modulations, according to the 
particular humor he happens to be in. When disposed for ridicule, 
there is scarce a bird whose peculiarities of song he cannot tune his 
notes to. When engaged in the blandishments of love, they resem- 
ble the soft chatterings of a Duck, and, while he nestles among the 
thick branches of the cedar, are scarce heard at a few paces' distance ; 
but he no .sooner discovers your approach than he sets up a sudden 
and vehement outcry, flying off", and screaming with all his might, as 
jf he called the whole feathered tribes of the neighborhood to witness 
some outrageous usage he had received. When he hops undisturbed 
among the high branches of the oak and hickory, they become soft 
and musical; and his calls of the female a stranger Avould readily 
mistake for the repeated screakings of an ungreased wheelbarrow. 
All these he accompanies with various nods, jerks, and other gesticula- 
tions, for which the whole tribe of Jays are so remarkable, that, with 
some other peculiarities, they might have very well justified the great 
Swedish naturalist in forming them into a separate genus by them- 
selves.* 

* This has now been done ; and modem ornithologists adopt the title Garndiis_ 
of Brisson, for this distinct and very well defined group, containing many species, 
which agree intimately in their general form and'habits, and are dispersed over 
every quarter of the w'orld, New Holland excepted. The colors of their plum^e 
are brown, gray, blue, and black ; in some distributed with sober chastity, while, 
in others, the deep tints and decided markings rival the richest gems. 

Proud of cerulean stains. 
From Heaven's unsullied arch purloin'd, the Jay 
Screams hoarse. Gisborne's Walks in a Forest. 

In geographical distribution, we find those of splendid plumage following the 
■warmer climates, and associating there with our ideas of Eastern magnificence 5 
while the more sober dressed, and, in our opinion, not the least pleeising, range 
through more temperate and northern regions, or those exalted tracts in tropical 
countries, where all the productions in some manner receive the impress of an alpine 
or northern station. This is no where better exemplified than in the specimens lately 
sent to this country from the lofty and extensive plains of the Himalaya, where we 
have already met with prototypes of the European Jay, Black and Green Wood- 
peckers, Greater Titmouse, and Nutcracker. They inhabit woody districts ; in their 
dispositions are cunning, bold, noisy, active, ancf restless, but docile and easily 
tamed, when introduced to the care of man, and are capable of being taught tricks 
and various sounds. The following instance of the latter propensity is thus related 
by Bewick : — " We have heard one imitate the sound made by the action of a saw, 
so exactly, that, thouah it was on a Sunday, we could hardly be persuaded that the 
person who kept it, Ixad not a carpenter at work in the house. Another, at the ap- 
proach of cattle, had learned to hound a cur dog upon them, by whistling and calling 



BLUE JAY. 3 

The Blue Jay builds a large nest, frequently in the cedar, sometimes 
on an apple-tree, lines it with dry, fibrous roots, and lays five eggs of 
a dull olive, spotted with brown. The male is ])articularly careful of 
not being heard near the place, making his visits as silently and se- 
cretly as possible. His favorite food is chestnuts, acorns, and Indian 
corn. He occasionally feeds on bugs and caterpillars, and sometimes 
pays a plundering visit to the orchard, cherry rows, and potato patch ; 
and lias been known, in times of scarcity, to venture into the barn, 
through openings between the weather boards. In tliese cases he is 
extremely active and silent, and, if surprised in the fact, makes his 
escape with precipitation, but without noise, as if conscious of his 
criminality. 

Of all birds, he is the most bitter enemy to the Owl. No sooner has 
he discovered the retreat of one of these, than he summons the whole 
feathered fraternity to his assistance, who surround the glimmering 
solitaire, and attack him from all sides, raising such a shout as may be 
heard, in a still day, more than half a mile offl When, in my hunting 
excursions, I have passed near this scene of tumult, I have imagined 
to myself that I heard the insulting party venting their respective 
charges with all the virulency of a Billingsgate mob ; the Owl, mean- 
while, returning every compliment Avith a broad, goggling stare. The 
war becomes louder and louder, and the Owl at length, forced to betake 
himself to flight, is followed by his whole train of persecutors, until 
driven beyond the boundaries of their jurisdiction. 

But the Blue Jay himself is not guiltless of similar depredations with 
tlie Owl, and becomes in his turn the very tyrant he detested, when 
he sneaks through the woods, as he frequently does, and among the 
thickets and hedge-rows, plundering every nest he can find of its 
eggs, tearing up the callow young by piecemeal, and spreading alarm 
and sorroAv around him. The cries of the distressed parents soon bring 
together a number of interested spectators, (for birds in such circum- 
stances seem truly to sympathize with each other,) and he is some- 
times attacked with such spirit as to be under the necessity of making 
a speedy retreat. 

upon him by his name. At last, during a severe frost, the dog was, by that means, 
excited to attack a cow big with calf, when the poor animal fell on the ice, and 
was much hurt : the Jay was complained of as a nuisance ; and its owner was 
obliged to destroy it." They feed indiscriminately, and, according to circum- 
stances, on either animal or vegetable substances 5 plundering nests of their eggs 
and young, and even, in the more exposed farm-yards, disappointing the hopes of 
the mistress, in the destruction of a favorite brood. They are also robbers of or- 
cJiards and gardens of their finest fruits 5 but, when without the reach of these luxu- 
ries, they will be content to satisfy their hunger with Nature's own productions, the 
wild berries, or fruits and seeds of the forest and the field. 

Several new species have been added to the North American list, some of which 
are described by the Prince of 31usignano 5 and, in addition^ we may mention one 
new species, published by Dr. Richardson and Mr. Swainson, in the Arctic Zoology. 
The only specimen brought home was killed on the roof of the dwelling-house at 
Fort Franklin, and was so similar to the Canada Jay, that it was not then recognized 
as a distinct species. The chief distinctions mentioned in the above work are the 
shorter bill, broader at the base, and narrower on the ridge ; the plumage looser 
than in G. Canadensis ; the secondaries proportionally longer, and all end in slender, 
but very distinct points, scarcely discernible in the Blue Jay, and not nearly so much 
developed in the Whisky-Jack. Tail is shorter than the latter j tlic tarsus is more 
robust. — Ed. 



4 BLUE JAY. 

He will sometimes assault small birds, with the intention of killing 
and devouring them ; an instance of which I myself once witnessed, 
over a piece of woods near the borders of Schuylkill ; where I saw him 
engaged for more than five minutes pursuing what I took to be a 
species of Moiadlla, Avheeling, darting, and doubling in the air, and, 
at last, to my great satisfaction, got disappointed, in the escape of his 
intended prey. In times of great extremity, when his hoard or mag- 
azine is frozen up, buried in snow, or perhaps exhausted, he becomes 
very voracious, and Avill make a meal of whatever carrion or other 
animal substance comes in the way, and has been found regaling 
himself on the bowels of a Robin in less than five minutes after it was 
shot 

There are, however, individual exceptions to this general character 
for plunder and outrage, a proneness for which is probably often oc- 
casioned by the wants and irritations of necessity. A Blue Jay, which 
I have kept for some time, and with whom 1 am on terms of familiarity, 
is in reality a very notable example of mildness of disposition and 
sociability of manners. An accident in the woods first put me in pos- 
session of this bird, while in full plumage, and in high health and 
spirits ; I carried him home with me, and put him into a cage already 
occupied by a Golden-winged Woodpecker, where he was saluted with 
such rudeness, and received such a drubbing from the lord of the 
manor, for entering his premises, that, to save his life, 1 was obliged 
to take him out again. 1 then put him into another cage, where the 
only tenant was a female Orchard Oriole. She also put on airs of 
alarm, as if she considered herself endangered and insulted by the in- 
trusion ; the Jay, meanwhile, sat mute and motionless on the bottom of 
the cage, either dubious of his own situation, or willing to allow time for 
the fears of his neighbor to subside. Accordingly, in a few minutes, 
after displaying various threatening gestures, (like some of those 
Indians we read of in their first interviews with the whites,) she began 
to make her approaches, but with great circumspection, and readiness 
for retreat Seeing, however, the Jay begin to pick up some crumbs 
of broken chestnuts, in a humble and peaceable way, she also descend- 
ed, and began to do the same ; but, at the slightest motion of her 
new guest, wheeled round, and put herself on the defensive. All this 
ceremonious jealousy vanished before evening ; and they now roost 
together, feed, and play together, in perfect harmony and good humor. 
When the Jay goes to drink, his messmate very impudently jumps 
into the water to wash herself, throwing the water in showers over her 
companion, who bears it all patiently ; venturing now and then to take 
a sip between every splash, without betraying the smallest token of 
irritation. On the contrary, he seems to take pleasure in his little fel- 
low-prisoner, allowing her to pick (which she does very gently) about 
his whiskers, and to clean his claws from the minute fragments of 
chestnuts which happen to adhere to them. This attachment on the 
one part, and mild condescension on the other, may, perhaps, be partly 
the effect of mutual misfortunes, which are found not only to knit 
mankind, but many species of inferior animals, more closely together ; 
and shoAvs that the disposition of the Blue Jay may be humanized, and 
rendered susceptible of affectionate impressions, even for those birds 



BLUE JAY. 5 

which, in a state of nature, he would have no hesitation in making a 
meal of. 

He is not only bold and vociferous, but possesses a considerable 
talent for mimicry, and seems to enjoy great satisfaction in mocking 
and teasing other birds, particularly the Little Hawk, [F. sparveriu.<i,) 
imitating his cry wherever he sees him, and squealing out as if caught : 
this soon brings a number of his own tribe around him, Avho all join in 
the frolic, darting about the Hawk, and feigning the cries of a bird 
sorely wounded, and already under the clutches of its devourer ; while 
others lie concealed in bushes, ready to second their associates in the 
attack. But this ludicrous farce often tenninates tragically. The 
Hawk, singling out one of the most insolent and provoking, sweeps 
upon him in an unguarded moment, and offers him up a sacrifice to 
Jiis hunger and resentment. In an instant the tune is changed ; all 
their buffoonery vanishes, and loud and incessant screams proclaim 
tlieir disaster. 

Wiierever the Jay has had the advantage of education from man, 
he has not only shown himself an apt scholar, but his suavity of man- 
ners seems equalled only by his art and contrivances ; though it must 
be confessed, that his itch for thieving keeps pace with all his other 
acquirements. Dr. Mease, on the authority of Colonel Postell, of 
South Carolina, informs me, that a Blue Jay, which was brought up in 
the family of the latter gentleman, had all the tricks and loquacity of 
a parrot ; pilfered every thing he could conveniently carry off, and hid 
them in holes and crevices ; answered to his name with great 
sociability, when called on; could articulate a number of Avords pretty 
distinctly ; and, when he heard an uncommon noise, or loud talking, 
seemed impatient to contribute his share to the general festivity (as 
he probably thought it) by a display of all the oratorical powers he 
was possessed of 

Mr. Bartram relates an instance of the Jay's sagacity, worthy of 
remark. " Having caught a Jay in the winter season," says he, " I 
turned him loose in the greenhouse, and fed him with corn, (zea, maize,) 
the heart of v/hich tliey are very fond of This grain being ripe and 
hard, the bird at first found a difficulty in breaking it, as it would start 
from his bill when he struck it. After looking about, and, as if con- 
sidering for a moment, he picked up his grain, carried and placed it 
close up in a corner on the shelf, between the wall and a plant box, 
where, being confined on three sides, he soon effected his purpose, 
and continued afterwards to make use of this same practical expedient. 
The Jay," continues this judicious observer, " is one of the most use- 
ful agents in the economy of nature, for disseminating forest-trees, 
and other ruciferous and hard-seeded vegetables on which they feed. 
Their cliief employment, during the autumnal season, is foraging to 
supply their winter stores. In performing this necessary duty, they 
drop abundance of seed in their fiight over fields, hedges, and by 
fences, where they alight to deposit them in the post holes, &c. It 
is remarkable what numbers of young trees rise up in fields and ])as- 
tures after a wet Avinter and spring. These birds alone are capable, 
in a few years' time, to replant all the cleared lands." * 

* LeUer of Mr. William Bartram to the author. 
1* 



6 BLUE JAV. 

The Blue Jays seldom associate in any considerable numbers, except 
in the months of September and October, when they hover about, in 
scattered parties of from forty to fifty, visiting the oaks, in search of 
their favorite acorns. At this season, they are less shy than usual, and 
keep chattering to each other in a variety of strange and querulous 
notes. I have counted fifty-three, but never more, at one time ; and 
these generally following each other in straggling irregularity from 
one range of woods to another. Yet we are told by the learned Dr. 
Latham, — and his statement has been copied into many respectable 
European publications, — that the Blue Jays of North America "often 
unite into flocks of twenty thousand at least ! which, alighting on a 
field of ten or twelve acres, soon lay waste tlie whole." * If this were 
really so, these birds would justly deserv^e the character he gives them, 
of being the most destructive species in America, But I will venture 
the assertion, that the tribe Oriolus phceniceu^, or Red- winged Black- 
birds, in the environs of the River Delaware alone, devour and destroy 
more Indian corn than the whole Blue Jays of North America. As to 
tlieir assembling in such immense multitudes, it may be sufficient to 
observe, that a flock of Blue Jays of twenty thousand would be as 
extraordinary an appearance in America, as the same number of Mag- 
pies or Cuckoos would be in Britain. 

It has been frequently said, that numbers of birds are common to 
the United States and Europe ; at present, however, I am not certain 
of many. Comparing the best descriptions and delineations of the 
European ones with those of our native birds, said to be of the same 
species, either the former are very en'oneous, or the difference of 
plumage and habits in the latter justifies us in considering a great 
proportion of them to be really distinct species. Be this, however, as 
it may, the Blue Jay appears to belong exclusively to North America. 
I cannot find it mentioned by any writer or traveller among the birds 
of Guiana, Brazil, or any other part of South America. It is equally 
unknoAvn in Africa. In Europe, and even in the eastern parts of Asia, 
it is never seen in its wild state. To ascertain the exact limits of its 
native regions, would be difficult. These, it is highly probable, will be 
found to be bounded by the extremities of the temperate zone. Dr. 
Latham has indeed asserted, that the Blue Jay of America is not found 
farther north than the town of Albany .f This, hoAvever, is a mistake. 
They are common in the Eastern States, and are mentioned by Dr. Bel- 
knap in his enumeration of the birds of New Hampshire.| They are also 
natives of Newfoundland. I myself have seen tliem in Upper Canada. 
Blue Jays and Yellow-Birds Avere found by Mr. M'Kenzie, Avhen on his 
journey across the continent, at the head waters of the Unjigah, or 
Peace River, in N. lat. 54°, W. Ion. 121°, on the west side of tiie great 
range of Stony Mountains.^ Steller, who, in 1741, accompanied 
Captain Behring in his expedition for the discovery of the north-west 
coast of America, and who Avrote the journal of the voyage, relates, 
that he himself went on shore near Cape St. Elias, in N. lat. 58° 28', 

* Synopsis of Birds, vol. i. p. 337. See also Encyclopcedia Britannica, art. 
Corvus. 

t Synopsis, vol. i. p. 387. 

j Histoni of New Hampshire, vol. iii. p. 163. 

\ Voyages from Montreal, SfC. p. 216, 4to., London, 180L 



YELLOW-BIRD, OR GOLDFINCH. 7 

W. Ion. 141° 46', according- to his estimation, where he observed 
several species of birds not knoivn in Siberia ; and one, in particular, 
described by Catesby, under tlie name of the Blue Jay.* Mr. William 
Bartram informs me, that they are numerous in the peninsula of Flor- 
ida, and that he also found them at Natchez, on tlie Mississippi. 
Captains Lewis and Clark, and their intrepid companions, in their 
memorable expedition across the continent of North America to the 
Pacific Ocean, continued to see Blue Jays for six hundred miles up the 
Missouri.! From these accounts it follows, that tliis species occupies, 
generally or partially, an extent of country stretching upwards of 
seventy degrees from east to west, and more than thirty degrees from 
north to south; though, from local circumstances, there may be inter- 
mediate tracts, in tliis immense range, which they seldom visit 



YELLOW-BIRD, OR GOLDFINCH. — FRINGILLA TRISTIS. 
Fig. 2. 

Lirm. Syst. i. p. 320. — Carduelis Americana, Briss. iii. p. 6, 3. — Le Chardonnerat 
jaune, Buff. iv. p. 112. PL enl 202, fo. 2. — American Goldfincli, Arct. Zool. ii. 
No. 242. — Edw. 274. — Lath. Syn. iii. p. 288, 57. Id. Sup. p. 166. — Bartram, 
p. 290. — Peak's Museum, No. 6344. 

CARDUELIS j3JV/EiJ/C./3JV^. — Ed-wards. 

New York Siskin, Penn. Arct. Zool. p. 372. (Male changing his plumage, and the 
male in his winter dress taken for female, auct. Swains.) — Fringilla tristis, 
Banap. Syn. p. Ill, No. 181. — Carduelis Americana, North. Zool. ii. p. 268. 

This bird is four inches and a half in length, and eight inches in 
extent, of a rich lemon yellow, fading into white towards the rump 
and vent The wings and tail are black, the fonner tipped and edged 
with white ; the interior webs of the latter are also white ; the fore 
part of the head is black, the bill and legs gf a reddish cinnamon 
color. This is the summer dress of the male ; but in the month of 
September the yellow gradually changes to a brown olive, and the 
male and female are then nearly alike. They build a very neat and 
delicately-formed little nest, which they fasten to the twigs of an 
apple-tree, or to the strong, branching stalks of hemp, covering it on 
the outside with pieces of lichen, which they find on the trees and 
fences ; these they glue together with their saliva, and afterwards line 
the inside with the softest downy substances they can procure. The 
female lays five eggs, of a dull white, thickly marked at the greater 
end ; and they generally raise two broods in a season. The males do 
not arrive at their perfect plumage until the succeeding spring ; want- 
ing, during that time, the black on the head, and the white on the 
wings being of a cream color. In the month of April, they begin to 

^ See Steller's Journal, apud Pallas. 
t This fact I had from Captain Lewis. 



8 YELLOW-BIRD, OR GOLDFINCH. 

change their winter dress, and, before the middle of May, appear in 
brilliant yellow : the whole plumage towards its roots is of a dusky 
bluish black. 

The song of the Yellow-Bird resembles that of the Goldfinch of 
Britain ; but is in general so weak as to appear to proceed from a 
considerable distance, when perhaps the bird is perched on the tree 
over your head. I have, however, heard some sing in cages with 
great energy and animation. On their first arrival in Pennsylvania, 
in February, and until early in April, they associate in flocks, fre- 
quently assembling in great numbers on the same tree to bask and 
dress themselves in the morning sun, singing in concert for half an 
hour together ; the confused mingling of their notes forming a kind 
of harmony not at all unpleasant* 

About the last of November, and sometimes sooner, they generally 
leave Pennsylvania, and proceed to the south ; some, however, are 
seen even in the midst of the severest winters. Their flight is not 
direct, but in alternate risings and sinkings ; twittering as they fly, at 
each successive impulse of the wings.f During the latter part of 
summer they are almost constant visitants in our gardens, in search 

* Carduelis of Brisson, having types in the common Goldfinch and Siskin of this 
country, is now g-enerally used as tne generic appellation for the group to which 
our present species belongs. It contains several American and Europecin species. 
They are closely allied to the true Linnets ; and the lesser Red-Poll (the Fiin^illa 
linana auctorum) has even by some been ranked with them. They also much re- 
semble the latter group in their manners, their haunts, their breeding, and feeding. 
Every one who has lived much in the country, must have often remarked the com- 
mon European Gray Linnets, in the manner above described of the American Gold- 
finch, congregating towards the close of a fine winter's evening, perched on the 
summit of some bare tree, pluming themselves in the last rays of the sun, cheruping 
the commencement of their evening song, and then bursting simultaneously into one 
general chorus; again resuming their single strains, and again joining, as if happy, 
and rejoicing at the termination of their day's employment. Mr. Audubon has re- 
marked the same trait in their manners, and confirms the resemblance of their notes : 
*' So much does the song of our Goldfinch resemble that of the European species, 
that, whilst in France and England, 1 have frequentl}'^ thought, and with pleasure 
thought, that they were the notes of our own bird which I heard." — Ed. 

t The flight of the American Goldfinch, and its manners during it, are described 
by Mr. Audubon Nvith greater minuteness : it is exactly similar to the European 
bird of the same name, being performed in deep curved lines, alternately rising and 
falling, after each propelling motion of the wings. It scarcely ever describes one 
of those curves, without uttering two or three notes whilst ascending, such as its 
European relative uses on similar occasions. In this manner its flight is prolonged 
to considerable distances, and it frequently moves in a circling direction beiore 
alighting. Their migration is performed during the day. They seldom alight on 
the ground, unless to procure water, in which they wash with great liveliness and 
pleasure ; after which they pick up some particles of gravel ana sand. So fond of 
each other's company are they, that a party of them soaring on the wing will alter 
their course at the calling of a single one perched on a tree. This call is uttered 
with much emphasis : the bird prolongs its usual note, without much alteration : 
and, as the party approaches, erects its body, and moves to the right and left, as if 
turning on a pivot, apparently pleased at showing the beauty of its plumage and 
elegance of its manners. 

This natural group has been long celebrated for their docility, and easy instruc- 
tion, whether in music, or to perform a variety of tricks. They are, consequently, 
favorites with bird-fanciers, and often doomed to undergo a severe and CRiel dis- 
cipline. The Goldfinch, Canary, the various Linnets, the Siskin, and Chaffinch, are 
principally used for this purpose*, and it is often astonishing, and almost incredible, 
with what correctness they will obey the voice or motions of their masters. Mr. 



YELLOW-BIRD, OR GOLDFINCH. 9 

of seeds, which they dislodge from the husk with great address, while 
hanging, frequently head downwards, in the manner of the Titmouse. 
From these circumstances, as well as from their color, they are very 
generally known, and pass by various names expressive of their food, 
color, &c., such as Thistle-Bird, Lettuce-Bird, Salad-Bird, Yellow-Bird, 
&c. The gardeners, who supply the city of Philadelphia with vege- 
tables, often take them in trap-cages, and expose them for sale in 
market. They are easily familiarized to confinement, and feed with 
seeming indifference a few hours after being taken. 

The great resemblance which the Yellow-Bird bears to the Canary 
has made many persons attempt to pair individuals of the two species 
together. An ingenious French gentleman, who resides in Pottsgrove, 
Pennsylvania, assured me, that he had tried the male Yellow-Bird with 
the female Canary, and the female Yellow-Bird with the male Canary, 
but without effect, though he kept them for several years together, 
and supplied them with proper materials for building. Mr. Hassey 
of New York, however, who keeps a great number of native as well 
as foreign birds, informed me, that a Yellow-Bird paired with a Canary 
in his possession, and laid eggs, but did not hatch, which he attributed 
to the lateness of the season. 

These birds were seen by Mr. M'Kenzie, in his route across the 
continent of North America, as far north as lat 54° ; they are numer- 
ous in all the Atlantic states north of the Carolinas ; abound in 
Mexico, and are also found in great numbers in the savannahs of 
Guiana. 

The seeds of the lettuce, thistle, hemp, &c., are their favorite food ; 
and it is pleasant to observe a few of them at work in a calm day, 
detaching the thistle-down, in search of the seeds, making it fly in 
clouds around them. 

The American Goldfinch has been figured and described by Mr 
Catesby,* who says, that the back part of the head is a dirty green, 
&c. This description must have been taken while the bird was 



Syme, in his History of British Song Birds, when speaking of the Sieur Roman, 
who some years since exhibited Goldfinches, Linnets, and Canaries, wonderfully 
trained, relates, that " one appeared dead, and was held up by the tail or claw 
without exhibiting- any signs of life ; a second stood on its head with its claws in 
the air ; a third imitated a Dutch milkmaid going to market with pails on its 
shoulders ; a fourth mimicked a Venetian girl looking out at a window; a fifth ap- 
peared as a soldier, and mounted guard as a sentinel ; and the sixth acted as a 
cannonier, with a cap on its head, a firelock on its shoulder, and a match in its claw, 
and discharged a small cannon. The same bird also acted as if it had been 
wounded. It was wheeled in a barrow, to convey it, as it were, to the hospital ; 
af\er which it flew away before the company : the seventh turned a kind of wind- 
mill ; and the last bird stood in the midst of some fireworks which were discharged 
all round it, and this without exhibiting the least symptom of fear." The American 
Goldfinch is no less docile than its congeners. Mr. Audubon relates, that they are 
oflen caught in trap-cages ; and that he knew one, which had undergone severe 
training, draw water for its drink from a glass, by means of a little chain fastened 
to a soft, leathern belt round its body, and another, equally light, fastened to a little 
bucket, which was kept by its weight in the water : it was also obliged to supply 
•tself with food, by bemg obliged to draw towards its bill a little chariot filled witn 
seeds. 

Female is represented in Bonaparte's continuation. — Ed. 

* Nat. Hist. Car. vol. i. p. 43. 



10 BALTBIORE ORIOLE. 

changing its plumage. At the approach of fall, not only the rich 
yellow fades into a brown olive, but the spot of black on the crown 
and forehead becomes also of the same olive tint. Mr. Edwards has 
also erred in saying, that the young male bird has the spot of black on 
the forehead ; this it does not receive until the succeeding spring.* 
The figure in Edwards is considerably too large ; and that by Catesby 
has the wings and tail much longer than in nature, and the body too 
slender, — very different from the true form of the living bird. Mr. 
Pennant also tells us, that the legs of this species are black ; they are, 
however, of a bright cinnamon color ; but the worthy naturalist, no 
doubt, described them as he found them in the dried and stuffed skin, 
shrivelled up and blackened with decay ; and thus too much of our 
natural history has been delineated. 



BALTIMORE ORIOLE. — ORIOLUS BALTIMORE. — Fig. 3. 

Linn. Syst. i. p. 162, 10. — Icterus Minor, Briss. ii. p. 109, 19. t. 12. fig. 1. — Le 
Baltimore, Buff. iii. p. 231. PL enl. 506, fig. 1. — Baltimore Bird, Catesb. Car. 
i. 48. — Arct. Zool. ii. p. U2. — Lath. Syn. ii. p. 452. 19. — Bartram, p. 290.— 
Peak's Museum, No. 1506. 

ICTER US BAL TIMORE. — Daudi n. 

Yphantes Baltimore, VieilL Gal. des Ois. pi. 87. — Icterus Baltimore, Bonap. Syn. 
p. bl. — North. Zool. ii. p. 284. — Baltimore Oriole, pi. 12, and Orn. Biog. p. 66. 

This is a bird of passage, arriving in Pennsylvania, from the south, 
■about the beginning of May, and departing towards the latter end of 
August, or beginning of September.! From the singularity of its 
colors, the construction of its nest, and its preferring the apple-trees, 
weeping willows, walnut and tulip-trees, adjoining the farm-house, to 
build on, it is generally known, and, as usual, honored with a variety 

^ These changes take place in the Common Siskin of this country : indeed changes, 
and, in many cases, similar to those alluded to, are common, according to season, 
among all our Fi-ingillidce ; the Common Chaffinch loses the pale gray of his fore- 
head, which becomes deep bluish purple ; the head and back of the Bramblmg, or 
Mountain Finch, becomes a deep glossy black 5 and the forehead and breasts of the 
different Linnets, from a russet brown, assume a rich and beautiful crimson. They 
are chiefly produced by the falling off of the ends of the plumules of each feather, 
which before concealed the richer tints of its lower parts 5 at other times, by the 
entire change of color. The tmt itself, however, is always much increased in beauty 
and gloss as the season for its display advances 5 at its tennination the genered 
moult commences, when the feathers are replaced with their new elongated tips, of 
a more sombre hue, which, no doubt, adds to the heat of the winter clothing, and 
remain until warmer weather and desires promote their dispersion. — Ed. 

t During migration, the flight of the Baltimore is high above all the trees, and is 
straight and continuous ; it is mostly performed during the day, as I have usuaJly 
observed them alighting, always singl}', about tlie setting of the sun, uttering a note 
or two, and darting into the lower branches to feed, and afterwards to rest. — Au- 
dubon. — Ed. 



BALTIMORE ORIOLE. 11 

of names, such as Hang-Nest, Hanging-Bird, Golden Robin, Fire-Bird, 
(from the bright orange seen tlu-ough the green leaves, resembling a 
flash of tire,) «fec., but more generally the Baltimore Bird, so named, as 
Catesby informs us, from its colors, Avhich are black and orange, 
being those of tlie arms or livery of Lord Baltimore, formerly pro- 
prietary of Maryland. 

The Baltimore Oriole is seven inches in length ; bill, almost straight, 
strong, tapering to a sharp point, black, and sometimes lead-colored, 
above, the lower mandible light blue towards the base. Head, throat, 
upper part of the back and wings, black ; lower part of the back, 
rump, and whole under parts, a bright orange, deepening into ver- 
milion on the breast ; the black on the shoulders is also divided by a 
band of orange ; exterior edges of the greater wing-coverts, as well 
as tlie edges of the secondaries, and part of those of the primaries, 
white ; the tail-feathers under the coverts, orange ; the two middle 
ones, from thence to the tips, are black ; the next five, on each side, 
black near the coverts, and orange towards the extremities, so disposed 
that, when the tail is expanded, and the coverts removed, the black 
appears in the form of a pyramid, supported on an arch of orange. 
Tail, slightly forked, the exterior feather on each side, a quarter ot 
an inch shorter than the others ; legs and feet, light blue, or lead 
color ; iris of the eye, hazel. 

The female has the head, throat, upper part of the neck and back, 
of a dull black, each feather being skirted with olive yellow ; lower 
part of the back, rump, upper tail-coverts, and whole lower parts, 
orange yellow, but much duller than that of the male ; tlie whole 
wing-feathers are of a deep dirty brown, except the quills, which are 
exteriorly edged, and the greater wing-coverts, and next superior roAv, 
which are broadly tipped with a dull yellowish white ; tail, olive yellow ; 
in some specimens, the two middle feathers have been found partly 
black, in otliers wholly so ; the black on the throat does not descend 
so far as in the male, is of a lighter tinge, and more irregular ; bill, 
legs, and claws, light blue.* 

BuiFon and Latham have both described the male of the B^tard 
Baltimore ( Oriotus spurius) as the female Baltimore. Mr. Penn^^ has 
committed the same mistake ; and all the ornithologists of Elurope, 
with whose works I am acquainted, who have undertaken to figure and 
describe these birds, have mistaken the proper males and females, and 
confounded the two species together in a very confused and extraor- 
dinary manner, for which, indeed, we ought to pardon tliem, on ac- 

* The change of the plumage of this bird, according lo age, is beautifully repre- 
sented on one of Mr. Audubon's gigantic plates, together willi its favorite tulip-tree, 
and curious pensile nest. According to that gentleman, tlie male does not receive 
his full plumage until the third spring. In the male of one year, the bill is dark 
brown above, pale blue beneath ; the iris, brown ; feet, light blue. The general 
color is dull brownish yellow, tinged with olive on the head and back ; the wings, 
blackish brown ; the quills and large coverts margined and tipped with white ; the 
lesser coverts are olivaceous ; the tail, destitute of black ; and the under parts paler 
than in the adult, without any approacli to the vivid orange tints displayed on it. 
In that of the second spring, the distribution of color has become the same as in the 
adult male, but the yellow is less vivid ; the upper mandible is brownish black above, 
and the iris is light browii : in the third spring, they receive the rich and brilliant 
plumage described by our author. — Eu. 



12 BALTIMORE ORIOLE. 

count of their distance from the native residence of these birds, and 
the strange alterations of color which the latter are subject to. 

This obscurity I have endeavored to clear up in the present volume 
of this work, Figs. 11, 12, 13, 14, by exhibiting the male and female 
of the Oriohis spurius in their different changes of dress, as well els 
in their perfect plumage ; and by introducing representations of the 
eggs of both, have, I hope, put the identity of these two species 
beyond all future dispute or ambiguity. 

Almost the whole genus of Orioles belong to America, and, with a 
few exceptions, build pensile nests.* Few of them, however, equal, 
the Baltimore in the construction of these receptacles for their young, 
and in giving them, in such a superior degree, convenience, Avarmth, 
and security. For these purposes he generally fixes on the high, 
bending extremities of the branches, fastening strong strings of hemp 
or flax round two forked twigs, corresponding to the intended width 
of the nest : with the same materials, mixed with quantities of loose 
tow, he interweaves or fabricates a strong, firm kind of cloth, not un- 
like the substance of a hat in its raw state, forming it into a pouch of 
six or seven inches in depth, lining it substantially with various soft 
substances, well interwoven with tlie outward netting, and, lastly, fin- 
ishes with a layer of horse hair ; the whole being shaded from the 
sun and rain by a natural pent-house, or canopy of leaves. As to a 
hole being left in the side for the young to be fed and void their 
excrements through, as Pennant and others relate, it is certainly an 
error : I have never met with any thing of the kind in the nest of the 
Baltimore. 

Though birds of the same species have, generally speaking, a com- 
mon form of building, yet, contrary to the usually received opinion, 
they do not build exactly in the same manner. As much difference 
will be found in the style, neatness, and finishing of the nests of the 
Baltimores, as in their voices. Some appear far superior workmen to 

* The true Orioles, having the Oriolus galbula of Europe and Africa,, with O. 
tnelanocephaltis of India, as typical, are entirely excluded from the New World j 
nevertheless Wilson was perfectly correct, meaning- the Icteri of Brisson, which 
are nearly confined to North and South America, represent the Orioles in that coun- 
try, and have now been arranged into several genera. These contain many species 
remarkable as well for their elegant form and bright and beautiful plumage, as for 
the singular and often matchless workmanship of their nests. The materials of the 
latter are woven and entwined in such a way as would defy the skill of the most 
expert seamstress, and unite all the requisites of dryness, security, and warmth. 
They are mostly pendulous from the ends of branches, and form thus a security 
from snakes or other depredators, which could easily reach them if placed on a 
more solid foundation. The}^ are formed of the different grasses, of drv roots, 
lichens, long and slender mosses, and in the present instances, mentionecf by our 
author, of substances which could not occur in the early or really natural state of 
the country, but had been adopted either from necessity, or " with the sagacitij of a 

food architect," improving every circumstance to the best advantage. Among the 
ifferent species, they vary in shape, from being round or resembling a compact 
ball, to nearly every bottle-shaped gradation of form, until they exceed three or four 
feet in length. Many species being gregarious, they breed numerously on the same 
tree, and tlieir nests, suspended from the pensile branches, and waving in the wnd, 
render the landscape and woods singular to an unaccustomed eye, ami present ap- 
pearances which those only who have had the good fortune to witness them in their 
native wilds can appreciate. 

The female is given by Wilson, in fig. 212. — Ed. 



BALTIMORE ORIOLE. 13 

others ; and probably age may improve them in this, as it does in their 
colors. I have a number of their nests now before me, all completed, 
and with eggs. One of these, the neatest, is in tlie form of a cylin- 
der, of five inches' diameter, and seven inches in depth, rounded at 
bottom. The opening at top is narrowed, by a horizontal covering, to 
two inches and a lialf in diameter. Tlie materials are flax, hemp, tow, 
hair, and wool, woven into a complete cloth ; the whole tightly sewed 
through and through with long horse hairs, several of which measure 
two feet in length. The bottom is composed of thick tufts of cow hair, 
sewed also with strong horse hair. This nest was hung on the ex- 
tremity of the horizontal branch of an apple-tree, fronting the south- 
east ; was visible a hundred yards off, though shaded from the sun ; 
and was the work of a very beautiful and perfect bird. The eggs are 
five, white, slightly tinged with flesh color, marked on the greater end 
with purple dots, and on the other parts with long hair-like lines, in- 
tersecting each other in a variety of directions. I am thus minute in 
these particulars, from a wish to point out the specific difference be- 
tween the True and Bastard Baltimore, which Dr. Latham, and some 
others, suspect to be only the same bird in different stages of color. 

So solicitous is the Baltimore to procure proper materials for his 
nest, that, in the season of building, the women in the country are 
under the necessity of narrowly watching their thread that may 
chance to be out bleaching, and the farmer to secure his young grafts ; 
as tlie Baltimore, finding the former, and the strings which tie tlie 
latter, so well adapted for his purpose, frequently carries off both ; or, 
should the one be too heavy, and the other too firmly tied, he will tug 
at them a considerable time before he gives up the attempt. Skains 
of silk and hanks of thread have been often found, after the leaves 
were fallen, hanging round the Baltimore's nest ; but so woven up, 
and entangled, as to be entirely irreclaimable. Before the introduc- 
tion of Europeans, no such material could have been obtained here ; 
but, with the sagacity of a good architect, he has improved this cir- 
cumstance to his advantage ; and the strongest and best materials are 
uniformly found in those parts by which the whole is supported. 

Their principal food consists of caterpillars, beetles, and bugs, par- 
ticularly one of a brilliant glossy green, fragments of which I have 
almost always found in their stomach, and sometimes these only. 

The song of the Baltimore is a clear, mellow whistle, repeated at 
short intervals, as he gleans among the branches. There is in it a 
certain wild plaintiveness and imiveU extremely interesting. It is not 
uttered with the rapidity of the Ferruginous Thrush, ( Turdus rufus,) and 
some other eminent songsters ; but with the pleasing tranquillity of a 
careless ploughboy, whistling merely for his own amusement. When 
alarmed by an approach to his nest, or any such circumstance, he 
makes a kind of rapid cheruping, very different from his usual note. 
This, however, is always succeeded by those mellow tones which seem 
so congenial to his nature. 

High on yon poplar, clad in glossiest green, 
The orange black-capped Baltimore is seen j 
The broad extended boughs still please him bestj 
Beneath their bending skirts he hangs his nest 3 

2 



14 BALTIMORE ORIOLE. 

There his sweet mate, secure from every harm, 

Broods o'er her spotted store, and wraps them warm ; 

Lists to the noontide hum of busy bees, 

Her partner's mellow song, the brook, the breeze ; 

These day by day the loneh- hours deceive, 

From dewy morn to slow descending eve. 

Two weeks elapsed, behold ! a helpless crew 

Claim all her care, and her atfection too ; 

On wings of love the assiduous nurses fly, 

Flowers, leaves, and boughs, abundant food supply j 

Glad chants their guardian, as abroad he goes. 

And waving breezes rock them to repose. 

The Baltimore inhabits North America from Canada to Mexico, 
and is even fotmd as far south as Brazil. Since the streets of our 
cities have been planted with that beautiful and stately tree, the Lom- 
bardy poplar, these birds are our constant visitors during the early 
part of summer ; and, amid the noise and tumult of coaches, drays, 
wheelbarrows, and the din of tlie multitude, they are heard chanting 
" their native wood notes wild ; " sometimes, too, within a few yards 
of an oysterinan, who stands bellowing, with the lungs of a Stentor, 
under the shade of the same tree ; so much wall habit reconcile even 
birds to the roar of the city, and to sounds and noises, that, in other 
circumstances, would put a w^hole grove of them to flight. 

These birds are several years in receiving their complete plumage. 
Sometimes the wdiole tail of a male individual in spring is yellow, 
sometimes only the two middle feathers are black, and frequently the 
black on the back is skirted wdth orange, and the tail tipped with the 
same color. Three years, I have reason to believe, are necessary to 
fix the full tint of the plumage, and then the male bird appears as 
already described.* 

* The following interesting account has been furnished to the publisher of this 
edition. 

'' At^'our request I send you the following history of a Baltimore Oriole, that I had 
in my care between seven and eight years. This bird I took from the nest when 
very young, with three others 5 but, being unskilled in taking care of them, this only 
lived. I taught it to feed from my mouth, and it would often alight on my finger, 
and strike the end with its bill, until I raised it to my mouth, when it would insert 
its bill and open my lips, by using its upper and lower mandibles as levers, and 
then take out whatever I mi^ht have there for it. 

" None, who have noted the Oriole, can have overlooked this peculiar power of its 
mandibles, bestowed by a wise and good Providence for gently opening the closed- 
up bud or leaf, and seizing the concealed insect. It sometimes takes peas in the 
same manner, leaving the open and empty pod on the vine. 

" In winter, spring, and autumn, I kept a little cage lined uith cotton batting for the 
bird to pass the night in, and, towards evening, it would leave its large cage, and 
fly to this. After entering, if I did not close up the aperture with cotton, it would 
do so itself by pulling the cotton from the sides of the cage, until it had shut up all 
openings for the cola to enter. I fed it with sponge cake ; and when this became 
dry and hard, and it wanted some softer, it would make its wants known to me by 
its look and note, and if I did not very soon attend to it, it would take up a piece 
of the hard cake, carry it to the saucer of water, and drop it in, and move it about, 
mitil it was sufficiently soft to be eaten. 

" In ver}-^ cold weather, the bird would leave its cage, fly to me, run under my 
cape, and place itself on my neck. Constantly, during the day, when it was at lib- 
erty, it would perch on my finger, and draw my needle and thread from me when I 
was sewino:. At such times, it any child approached me and pulled my cape or 
dress a little, it would chase after the oflfender, with its wings and tail spread, and 



WOOD THRUSH. 15 

WOOD THRUSH.— TURDUS MELODUS. — Fig. 4. 

Bartram, p. 290. — Peak's Museum, No. 5264. 

TURDUS MUSTELIMUS. — Gmeu n. 

Tardus mustelinus, Gtn. Linn. ii. 817, No. 57. — Bonap. S^jnop. p. 75. — Penn. 
Arct. Zool. ii. p. 337. — The Wood Trush, Aud. p. 372. 

Particular attention has been paid to render the figure of this bird 
a faithful likeness of the original in Wilson's edition. It measures 
eight inches in length, and thirteen from tip to tip of the expanded 
wings ; the bill is an inch long ; the upper mandible, of a dusky brown, 
bent at the point, and slightly notched; the lower, a flesh color 
towards the base ; the legs are long, and, as well as the claws, of a 
pale flesh color, or almost transparent. The whole upper parts are 
of a brown fulvous color, brightening into reddish on the head, and 
inclining to an olive on the rump and tail ; chin, white ; throat and 
breast, white, tinged with a light buff" color, and beautifully marked 

hig-h resentment in its eye, which nothing would allay but a cessation of the 
ottence. 

'■ One afternoon, I left this bird in a cage with a recendy-caught Red-Bird, on the 
piazza under my open chamber window, and on my return towards evening I found 
my Oriole in my chamber perched and peering out from under the collar of one of 
my dresses, (which was its usual custom when I left it at liberty during my ab- 
sence,) and the Red-Bird gone. 

" The next day, I put my Oriole out again in the same cage, and then learned 
how I lost my Red-Bird. The door, or entrance to the cage, was made of five or six 
round sticks that passed through some holes on one side of the opening, into some 
holes on the other side, very much, if not exacUy, like a farmer's bars, which let down 
one after the other. About five o'clock, I observed my bird trying to draw my 
attention to its wants, which were to come into the room. As I did not immediately 
attend to it, I saw it go down to the '' bars," and, while it held on to the side of i\\e 
cage, it took the " bars " in its mouth and moved them, until it had got two or three 
down, thus making an opening large enough to allow it to come into the chamber. 

" This bird made many journeys with me, and always appeared to be happy and 
contented could it be near me, although shut up in a cage six inches long, and eight 
or ten inches high and wide, with a green cloth covering, drawn together at top 
with tape, leaving an opening for it to look out and see me, and receive little 
crumbs, &c. It flew, at one time, from fright, out of the ladies' cabin in the steam- 
boat, just before starting for Albany, up into the city of New York, and no one on 
board could tell which way the bird went. My husband, who knew how much the 
habits of the bird had been changed by domestication, thought it must have taken 
refuge in the first open dwelling ; and so it proved, for it had flown up the street, and 
entered a new building, the wmdows of which were unglazed. At another time, in 
Portsmouth, N. H., it flew away, and none could say where it went ; but we regained 
it by looking into the nearest open building, which was a livery stable, where we 
found the bird standing on the stall between two horses. 

" In sickness, when I have been confined to the bed, my bird would visit my pillow 
many times during the day, often creeping under the bed-clothes to me. At such 
times it always appeared depressed and low spirited. When it wanted to bathe, it 
would approach me with a very expressive look, and shake its wings. On my re- 
turn home from a call or visit, it would invariably show its pleasure by a peculiar 
sound. 

P. A. MESSER. 

" Connecticut River Valley, 
" July 10, 1839." 



16 WOOD THRUSH. 

with pointed spots o. olack or dusky, running in chains from the sides 
of the mouth, and intersecting each other all over the breast to the 
belly, Avhich, with the vent, is of a pure white ; a narrow circle of 
white surrounds the eye, which is large, full, the pupil black, and the 
iris of a dark chocolate color ; the inside of the mouth is yellow. The 
male and female of this species, as, indeed, of almost the whole genus 
of Thrushes, differ so little, as scarcely to be distinguished from each 
other. It is called by some the Wood Robin, by others the Ground 
Robin, and by some of our American ornithologists Turdus minora 
though, as will hereafter appear, improperly. The present name has 
been adopted from Mr. William Bartram, who seems to have been the 
first and almost only naturalist who has taken notice of the merits of 
this bird.* 

This sweet and solitary songster inhabits the whole of North Amer- 
ica, from Hudson's Bay to the peninsula of Florida. He arrives in 
Pennsylvania about the 20th of April, or soon after, and returns to the 
south about the beginning of October. The lateness or earliness of 
the season seems to make less difference in the times of arrival of our 
birds of passage than is generally imagined. Early in April the woods 
are often in considerable forwardness, and scarce a summer bird to 
be seen. On the other hand, vegetation is sometimes no further 
advanced on the 20th of April, at which time (e. g. this present year, 
1807) numbers of Wood Thrushes are seen flitting through the moist, 
woody hollows, and a variety of the Motacilla genus chattering from 
almost every bush, with scarce an expanded leaf to conceal them. 
But at whatever time the Wood Thrush may arrive, he soon announces 
his presence in the woods. With the dawn of the succeeding morning, 
mounting to the top of some tall tree that rises from a low, thick-shaded 

* Almost every country has its peculiar and favorite songsters, and even amonff 
the rudest nations the cries and songs of birds are listened to, and associated with 
their general occupations, their superstitions, or religion. In America, the Wood 
Thrush appears to hold a rank equal to the Nightingale and Song Thrush of Europe : 
like the latter, he may be oftentimes seen perched on the summit of a topmost 
brajich, during a warm and balmy evening or morning, pouring forth in rich melody 
his full voice, and will produce associations which a foreigner would assimilate 
with the warblers of his own land. 

" The songof the Wood Thrush," says Mr. Audubon, '' although composed of but 
few notes, is so powerful, distinct, clear, and mellow, that it is impossible for any 
person to hear it without being struck with the effect it produces on the mbd. I 
do not know to what instrumental sounds I can compare these notes, for I really 
know none so melodious and harmonical. They gradually rise in strength, and 
then fall in gentle cadence, becoming at length so low as to be scarcely audible." 
They are easily reared from the nest, cmd sing nearly as well in confinement as 
when free. 

Prince C. L. Bonaparte, in his Nomenclature of Wilson's North American Orni- 
thology, remarks, that our author was the first to distinguish the three closely 
allied species of North American Thrushes by decided characters, but that he has 
nevertlieless embroiled the nomenclature of this and his T. miistelinus : — ''This 
bird being evidently the T. mustelinus of Gmelin and Latham, Wilson's new name, 
which is not modelled agreeably to any language, must be rejected." 

The title for our present species, allowing Bonaparte to be correct, and of which 
there appears little doubt, will therefore now stand. Wood Thrush, Wilson ; Tur- 
dus mustelinus, Gmelin 5 and T. melodus will come in as a synonyme ; while Wil- 
son's T. mustelinus, being without a name, has been most deservedly dedicated to 
the memory of the great American ornithologist himself. — Ed. 



WOOD THRUSH. 17 

part of the woods, lie pipes his few, but clear and musical notes, in a 
kind of ecstasy ; the prelude, or symphony to which, strongly resem- 
bles the double-tonguing of a German flute, and sometimes the tin- 
klinor of a small bell ; the whole song consists of five or six parts, the 
last note of each of which is in such a tone as to leave the conclusion 
evidently suspended ; the finale is finely managed, and with such 
charming eflTect as to soothe and tranquillize the mind, and to seem 
sweeter and mellower at each successive repetition. Rival songsters, 
of the same species, challenge each other from different parts of the 
wood, seeming to vie for softer tones and more exquisite responses. 
During the burning heat of the day, they are comparatively mute ; but 
in the evening the same melody is renewed, and continued long after 
sunset. Those who visit our woods, or ride out into the country at 
tliese hours, during the months of May and June, will be at no loss to 
recognize, from the above description, this pleasing musician. Even 
in dark, wet, and gloomy weather, when scarce a single chirp is heard 
from any other bird, the clear notes of the Wood Thrush tlirill through 
tlie dropping woods, from morning to night ; and it may truly be said 
that the sadder the day the sweeter is his song. 

The favorite haunts of the Wood Thrush are low, thick-shaded hol- 
loAvs, through which a small brook or rill meanders, overhung with 
alder bushes, that are mantled with wild vines. Near such a scene 
he generally builds his nest, in a laurel or alder bush. Outwardly it 
is composed of Avithered beech leaves of the preceding year, laid at 
bottom in considerable quantities, no doubt to prevent damp and 
moisture from ascending through, being generally built in low, wet 
situations ; above these are layers of knotty stalks of withered grass, 
mixed with mud, and smoothly plastered, above which is laid a slight 
lining of fine, black, fibrous roots of plants. The eggs are four, some- 
times five, of a uniform light blue, without any spots. 

The Wood Thrush appears always singly or in pairs, and is of a shy, 
retired, unobtrusive disposition. With the modesty of true merit, he 
charms you with his song, but is content, and even solicitous, to be 
concealed. He delights to trace the irregular windings of the brook, 
where, by the luxuriance of foliage, the sun is completely shut out, 
or only plays in a few interrupted beams on the glittering surface of 
the water. He is also fond of a particular species of lichen which 
grows in such situations, and which, towards the fall, I have uniformly 
found in their stomachs : berries, however, of various kinds, are his 
principal food, as well as beetles and caterpillars. The feathers on 
the hind head are longer than is usual with birds which have no crest ; 
these he sometimes erects ; but this particular cannot be observed but 
on a close examination.* 

Those who have paid minute attention to the singing of birds, know 
well, that the voice, energy, and expression, in the same tribe, differ 

* In addition to the above picture of the manners of this Thrush, Mr. Audubon 
remarks, that it performs its migrations during- the day, gliding swiftly through the 
woods, Avithout appearing in the open country ; that, on aligliting upon a branch, it 
^ves its tail a few jets, uttering at each motion a low, chuckling note, peculiar to 
Itself; it then stands still for a while, with the feathers of the hind part a little raised. 
It walks and hops along the branches with much ease, and bends down its head to 
peep at the objects around. — Ed. 
2# 



18 WOOD THRUSH. 

as widely as the voices of different individuals of the human species, 
or as one singer does from another. The powers of song, in some 
individuals of the Wood Thrush, have often surprised and delighted me. 
Of these I remember one, many years ago, whose notes I could in- 
stantly recognize on entering the woods, and with whom T had been, 
as it were, acquainted from his first arrival. The top of a large white 
oak that overhung part of the glen, was usually the favorite pinnacle 
from whence he poured the sweetest melody ; to which 1 had fre- 
quently listened till night began to gather in the woods, and the fire- 
flies to sparkle among the branches. But, alas ! in the pathetic lan- 
guage of the poet — 

One morn I missed him on the accustomed hill, 
Along- the vale, and on his favorite tree — 
Another came, nor yet beside the rill, 
Nor up the glen, nor in the wood was he. 

A few days afterwards, passing along the edge of the rocks, I found 
fragments of the wings and broken feathers of a Wood Thrush killed 
by the Hawk, which I contemplated with unfeigned regret, and not 
without a determination to retaliate on the first of these murderers I 
could meet with. 

That I may not seem singular in my estimation of this bird, I shall 
subjoin an extract of a letter from a distinguished American gentle- 
man, to whom I had sent some drawings, and whose name, were I at 
liberty to give it, would do honor to my humble perfomiance, and 
vender any further observations on the subject from me unnecessary. 

" As you are curious in birds, there is one well worthy your atten- 
tion, to be found, or rather heard, in every part of America, and yet 
scarcely ever to be seen. It is in all the forests from spring to fall, 
and never but on the tops of the tallest trees, from which it perpet- 
ually serenades us with some of the sweetest notes, and as clear as 
those of the Nightingale. I have followed it for miles, without ever 
but once getting a good view of it It is of the size and make of the 
Mocking Bird, lightly tlirush-colored on the back, and a grayish white 
on the breast and belly. Mr. — — — , my son-in-law, was in possession 
of one, which had been shot by a neighbor ; he pronounced it a Mus- 
cicapa, and I think it much resembles the Mouche rolle de la Martinique, 
8 Buffon, 374, PI. enlum. 568. As it abotmds in all the neighborhood 
of Philadelphia, you may, perhaps, by patience and perseverance, (of 
which much will be requisite,) get a sight, if not a possession, of it. 
I have, for twenty years, interested the young sportsmen of my neigh- 
borhood to shoot me one, but, as yet, without success." 

It may seem strange that neither Sloane,* Catesby, Edwards, nor 
Buffon, all of whom are said to have described this bird, should say 
any thing of its melody ; or rather, assert that it had only a single cry 
or scream. This I cannot account for in any other way than by sup- 
posing, what I think highly probable, that this bird has never been 
figured or described by any of the above authors. 

Catesby has, indeed, represented a bird, which he calls Turdus 
minimus,^ but it is difficult to discover, either from the figure or de- 

* Hist. Jam. ii. 305. t Catesby's Nat. Hist. Car. i. 31. 



WOOD THRUSH. 19 

scription, what particular species is meant ; or whether it be really 
intended for the Wood Tln-ush we are now describing. It resembles, 
he says, the English Thrush ; but is less, never sings, has only a single 
note, and abides all the year in Carolina. It must be confessed that, 
except tlie first circumstance, there are few features of the Wood 
Thrush in tliis description. I have searched the woods of Carolina 
and Georgia, in Avinter, for this bird in vain, nor do I believe it ever 
winters in tliese states. If Mr. Catesby found his bird mute during 
spring and summer, it w^as not the Wood Thrush, otherwise he nmst 
have changed his very nature. But Mr. Edwards has also described 
and delineated the little Thrush,* and has referred to Catesby as having 
drawn and engraved it before. Now, this Thrush of Edwards I know 
to be really a different species ; one not resident in Pennsylvania, but 
passing to the north in May, and returning the same way in October, 
and may be distinguished from the true Song Thrush [Turdus melodv.s) 
by the spots being much broader, brown, and not descending below 
the breast. It is also an inch shorter, with the cheeks of a bright 
tawny color. Mr. William Bartram, who transmitted this bird, more 
tlian fifty years ago, to Mr. Edwards, by whom it was drawn and en- 
graved, examined the two species in my presence ; and on comparing 
them with the one in Edwards, was satisfied that the bird there fig- 
ured and described is not the Wood Thrush^ {Turdus melodus,) but the 
tawny-cheeked species above mentioned. This I have never seen in 
Pennsylvania but in spring and fall. It is still more solitary than the 
former, and utters, at rare times, a single cry, similar to that of a 
chicken which has lost its mother. This very bird I found numerous 
in the myrtle swamps of Carolina in the depth of winter, and I have 
not a doubt of its being the same which is described by Edwards and 
Catesby. 

As the Count de Buffon has drawn his description from those above 
mentioned, the same observations apply equally to what he has said 
on the subject ; and the fanciful theory which this writer had formed 
to account for its want of song, vanishes into empty air ; viz. that the 
Song Thrush of Europe ( Turdus musicus) had, at some time after the 
creation, rambled round by the Northern Ocean, and made its way to 
America ; that, advancing to the south, it had there (of consequence) 
become degenerated by change of food and climate, so that its cry is 
now harsh and unpleasant, " as are the cries of all birds that live in 
wild countries inhabited by savages." f 

* Edwards, 296. 

t Buffon, vol. iii, 289. The figure in PL enl. 398 has liule or no resemblance 
to the Wood Thrush, being of a deep green olive above, and spotted to the tail below 
with long streaks of brown. 



20 ROBIN. 



ROBIN. — TURDUS MIGRATORIUS. — Fig. 5. 

Linn. Syst. i. p. 292, 6. — Turdus Canadensis, Briss. ii. p. 225, 9. — La Litome de 
Canada, ^M_^. iii. p. 307. — Grive de Canada, PZ. enl. 556,1. — Fieldfare of 
Carolina. Cat. Car. i. 29. — Red-breasted Thrush, Arct. ZooL ii. No. 196. — Lath. 
Syn. ii. p. ^. — Bartram, p. 290. — Peak's Museum, No. 5278. 

TURDUS MIQRA TORIUS. * — Linx^us. 

Tardus migratorius, Bonap. Synop. p. 75. — Merula migratoria. 
North. Zool. ii. p. 177. 

This well-known bird, being familiar to almost every body, will re- 
quire but a short description. It measures nine inches and a half in 



* In the beautifully wToug-ht out arrctngement of the Merulidoe., by 3fr. Swainson, 
in the second volume of the Northern Zoology, that family will form the second 
axaon^ ihe Denlirostres, ov the subt3-pical group; including, for its five principal 
divisions, the families Merulince, Myotherince. Brachypodince, Oriolince, and Cra- 
teropodince ; among these, however, two, or at most three, only, come within the 
range of the northern continent of America, — the first and third. The first, Meru- 
iince, or more properly the typical form, will now claim our attention. 

In all the members taken collectively, and in adaptation to their general habits, 
they show considerable perfection, though their form as a part of the Dentirostres 
does not come up to the typical perfections of that group. The parts are adapted 
tor extensive locomotion, either in walking or perching, and in flight ; many perform 
very considerable migrations, and long and rapid flights are often taken in those 
comitries even where the climate does not seem to render this necessary. They 
are nearly omnivorous. A great part of their sustenance is sought for upon the 
ground, particularly during that season when insects are not indispensable for the 
welfare of their broods ; and their feet and tarsi are admirably formed for walking 
and inspecting the various places where their food is then chiefly to be found. At 
other times they live principally upon fruits and some vegetables, wth the larvae 
of insects, and the abundant supply of large and succulent caterpillars 3 but during 
winter, the harder grains, and more fleshy insects common to low meadows and 
moist woods, such as the various snails, flies, and worms, are nearly their only 
food ; for after the first month of the inclement season has passed, most of the winter 
wild fruits and berries have either fallen from their stocks, or have been already 
consumed by these and many other tribes that subsist upon them. Very few are 
quite solitary : during the breeding season they all separate, but after the broods 
have been raised, they congregate either in very large flocks or in groups of five or six. 
Those of smaller numbers generally either become more domestic, and approach 
dwellings and cultivated districts on the approach of winter, or retire entirely to the 
depths of solitary forests. Those that congregate in large flocks are always re- 
markably shy, suffer persons to approach with difficulty, and have a sentinel or watch 
on the look-out, to warn them of danger. Their cry is harsh and sharp, or shrill 
and monotonous, except during the season of incubation, when the\' all produce 
strains of more interest. Some possess great melody, and in others the notes are 
remarkably pensive and melancholy. On this account they are universal favorites 5 
and the early song of the Mavis is watched for, by those residing much in the coun- 
try, as the harbinger of a new season and brighter days. The true Thrushes are all 
inhabitants of woods, and only from the necessity of procuring food resort to the 
open countries. In distribution, they ranere over the world, "and the proportion 
seems pretty equal ; India and Southern Europe may, perhaps, have the most ex- 
tensive list, and North America will rank in the least proportion. They are often 
used as articles of food, and the immense havock made among the Northern Robins 
of our author, will show the estimation in which they are held as luxuries for the 



ROBIN. 21 

sometimes black, or dusky near the tip of the upper mandible ; the head, 
back of the neck, and tail, is black ; the back and rump, an ash color ; 
the wings are black, edged witli light ash ; the inner tips of the two 
exterior tail-feathers, are white ; three small spots of white border the 
eye ; the throat and upi)er part of the breast is black, the former 
streaked with white ; the whole of the rest of the breast, down as far 
as the thighs, is of a dark orange ; belly and vent, wliite, slightly 
waved with dusky ash ; legs, dark brown ; claws, black and strong. 
The colors of the female are more of the light ash, less deepened 
with black ; and the orange on the breast is much paler, and more 
broadly skirted with white. The name of this bird bespeaks him a 
bird of passage, as are all the different species of Thrushes we have ; 
but the one we are now describing, being more unsettled, and contin- 
ually roving about from one region to another, during fall and winter, 
seems particularly entitled to the appellation. Scarce a winter passes 
but innumerable thousands of them are seen in the lower parts of the 
whole Atlantic states, from New Hampshire to Carolina, particularly 
in the neighborhood of our towns ; and, from the circumstance of 
their leaving, during that season, the country to the north-west of the 
great range of the Alleghany, from Maryland northward, it would ap- 
pear that they not only migrate from north to south, but from west to 
east, to avoid the deep snows that generally prevail on tliese high 
regions for at least four months in the year. 

The Robin builds a large nest, often on an apple-tree, plasters it in 
the inside with mud, and lines it with hay or fine grass. The female 
lays five eggs, of a beautiful sea-green. Their principal food is ber- 
ries, worms, and caterpillars. Of the first he prefers those of the sour 
gum, [JVijssa sylvatica.) So fond are they of gum-berries, that, wher- 
ever there is one of these trees covered with fruit, and flocks of Rob- 
ins in the neighborhood, the sportsman need only take his stand 
near it, load, take aim, and fire ; one flock succeeding another, with 
little interruption, almost the whole day : by this method, prodigious 



table ; in Spain and Italy, great numbers are taken for the same purpose, with nets 
and various kinds of snares. With the severity of the season, however, and the dif- 
ference of food, tlie flesh acquires a bitter flavor, which renders them unfit for culi- 
nary purposes, and affords a temporary respite from their merciless persecutions. 

The title Mcrula, which IMr. Swainson and several of our modern ornitholog^ists 
have adopted, was used by Ray only as a sub-genus among his " Turdinum genus,'' 
and contained that division to which the Blackbird and Ringousel would belong ; 
Turdus being confined to those with spotted breasts. I do not consider the very 
trifling difference in form between the plain and spotted species to be of sufficient 
importance, and prefer retaining the generic name of Turdus, as one well known 
and long a.ccepted. 

Robin seems to be applied in America generally to several of the Thrushes ; some 
expletive g'oing before to desicfnate the species by its habits, as " Wood Robin" 
" Swamp Robin," "Ground Robin," &lc. Our present species is the Robin; and, 
cLS the preceding was a favorite on account of its song, this is no less so from the 
unassuming and dependent familiarity of its manners : it was most probably this, 
joined with the color of the breast, which first suggested the name of our own 
homely bird to the earlier British settlers, and along with it part of the respect with 
which its namesake is treated in this country. 

An African species, Turdus olivaceus, {le Griveron, Vieill.) is nearly allied in the 
distribution of the markings. T have another, 1 believe, from South America, which 
approaches both nearly. — Ed. 



22 ROBIN. 

slaughter has been made among them with little fatigue. When ber- 
ries fail, they disperse themselves over the fields, and along the fences, 
in search of Avorms and other insects. Sometimes they will disappear 
for a week or two, and return again in greater numbers than before ; 
at which time the cities pour out their sportsmen by scores, and the 
markets are plentifully supplied with them at a cheap rate. In Janu- 
ary, 1807, two young men, in one excursion after them, shot thirty 
dozen. In the midst of such devastation, which continued many 
weeks, and, by accounts, extended from Massachusetts to Maryland, 
some humane person took advantage of a circumstance common to 
these birds in winter, to stop the general slaughter. The fruit called 
poke-berries [Phytolacca decandra, Linn.) is a favorite repast with the 
Robin, after they are melloAved by the frost. The juice of the berries 
is of a beautiful crimson, and they are eaten in such quantities by 
tliese birds, that their whole stomachs are strongly tinged with the 
same red color. A paragraph appeared in the public papers, intima- 
ting, that, from the great quantities of these berries which the Robins 
had fed on, they had become unwholesome, and even dangerous food ; 
and tliat several persons had suffered by eating of them. The strange 
appearance of the bowels of the birds seemed to corroborate this ac- 
count. The demand for, and use of them, ceased almost instantly ; 
and motives of self-preservation produced at once what all the plead- 
ings of humanity could not effect* When fat, they are in consider- 
able esteem for the table, and probably not inferior to the Turdi of 
the ancients, which they bestowed so much pains on in feeding and 
fattening. The young birds are frequently and easily raised, bear the 
confinement of the cage, feed on bread, fruits, &c., sing well, readily 
learn to imitate parts of tunes, and are very pleasant and cheerful 
domestics. In these I have always observed that the orange on the 
breast is of a much deeper tint, often a dark mahogany or chestnut 
color, owing, no doubt, to their food and confinement. 

The Robin is one of our earliest songsters ; even in March, while 
snow yet dapples the fields, and flocks of them are dispersed about, 
some few will mount a post or stake of the fence, and make short and 
frequent attempts at their song.f Early in April, they are only to be 

* Governor Drayton, in his View of South Carolina, p. 86, observes, that '^ the 
Robins in v/inter devour the berries of the bead-tree [Melia azedarach) in such larg-e 
quantities, that, after eating of them, they are observed to fall down, and are readily 
taken. This is ascribed more to distention from abundant eating, than from any 
deleterious qualities of the plant." The fact, however, is, that they are literally 
choked, many of the berries being too large to be swallowed. 

+ '' The male is one of the loudest and most assiduous of the songsters that fre- 
quent the fur comitries, beginning his chant immediately on his arrival. Within 
the arctic circle, the woods are silent in the bright light of noon-day ; but, towards 
midnight, when the sun travels near the horizon^ and the shades of the forest are 
lengthened, the concert commences, and continues till six or seven in the morning." 
Thus speaks Dr. Richardson, in the Northern Zoolo^, regarding the song of tliis 
bird ; and he further adds, regarding the breeding and geographical range, — ''Its 
nests were observed, by the last Northern expedition, conducted by Captain Sir J. 
Franklin, as high as the 67th parallel of latitude. It arrives on the Missouri, in lat. 
41^°, from the eastward, on the 11th of April ; and, in the course of its northerly 
movement, reaches Severn River, in Hudson's Bay, about a fortnight later. Its 
first appearance at Carlton House, in t!io year 1827, in lat. 53°, was on the 22d 
April. In the same season, it reached Fort Chippewyan, in lat. 65|°, on the 7th 



ROBIN. 23 

seen in pairs, and deliver their notes with great earnestness, from the 
top of some tree detached from the woods. Tliis song has some re- 
semblance to, and indeed is no bad imitation of, the notes of the 
Thrush or Thrasher, [Turdus rufus ;) but, if deficient in point of execu- 
tion, he possesses more simplicity, and makes up in zeal what he wants 
in talent ; so tliat the notes of tlie Robin, in spring, are universally 
known, and as universally beloved. They are, as it Avere, the prelude 
to the grand general concert that is about to burst upon us from 
woods, fields, and thickets, whitened with blossoms, and breathing 
fragrance. By the usual association of ideas, we, therefore, listen 
with more pleasure to tiiis cheerful bird, than to many others possessed 
of far superior powers, and much greater variety. Even his nest is 
held more sacred among schoolboys than that of some others ; and, 
while they will exult in plundering a Jay's or a Cat Bird's, a general 
sentiment of respect prevails on the discovery of a Robin's. Whether 
he owes not some little of this veneration to the well-known and long- 
established character of his namesake in Britain, by a like association 
of ideas, I will not pretend to determine. He possesses a good deal 
of his suavity of manners ; and almost always seeks shelter for his 
young in summer, and subsistence for himself in the extremes of 
winter, near the habitations of man. 

The Robin inliabits the whole of North America, from Hudson's 
Bay to Nootka Sound, and as far south as Georgia, though they rarely 
breed on this side the mountains farther south than Virginia. Mr. 
Forster says, that about the beginning of May they make their ap- 
pearance in pairs at the settlements of Hudson's Bay, at Severn 
River; and adds a circumstance altogether unworthy of belief, viz. 
that, at Moose Fort, they build, lay, and hatch, in fourteen days ! but 
that at the former place, four degrees more north, they are said to take 
twenty-six days.^"^ They are also common in Newfoundland, quitting 
these northern parts in October. The young, during the first season, 
are spotted with white on the breast, and at that time have a good 
deal of resemblance to the Fieldfare of Europe. 

Mr. Hearne infomis us, that the red-breasted Thrushes are commonly 
called, at Hudson's Bay, the Red-Birds — by some, the Blackbirds, on 

of May 5 and Fort Franklin, in lat. G5°, on the 20th of that month. Those that 
build their nests in the 54th parallel of latitude, begin to hatch in the end of May ; 
but 11° farther to the north, that event is deferred till the 11th of June. The snow, 
even then, partially covers the ground; but there are, in those high latitudes, 
abundance of the berries of Vaccinium uligiiiosum and Vitis idea, Arbutus alpina, 
Empetrtim nigrum, and of some other plants, which, after having been frozen up 
all winter, are exposed to the first melting of the snows, full of juice, and in high 
flavor: shortly after, the parents obtain abundance of grubs for their callow young." 

We thus see the extreme regularity with which the migrations are performed, 
and cannot too much admire the power which enables them to perceive, and cal- 
culate so exactly, the time required for their journey to the climates best suited to 
their duties at that season. We also see another wonderful provision, both for ths 
migratory species and those which subsist as they best can during the winter, in 
the preservation of the berries and fruits fresh and juicy under the snow. Were it 
not for this, the ground, on the melting of its covering, would present a more des- 
olate appearance than in the extremest storms of winter, and all animal life would 
inevitably perish, for want of food, before the various and abundant ])lants could 
flower and perfect their fruits. — Ed. 

* Phil. Trans. Ixii. 399. 



24 WHITE-BREASTED, BLACK-CAPPED NUTHATCH. 

account of their note — and by others, the American Fieldfares ; that 
they make their appearance at Churchill River about the middle of 
May, and migrate to the south early in the fall. They are seldom 
seen there but in pairs ; and are never killed for their flesh, except by 
tlie Indian boys.* 

Several authors have asserted, that the red-breasted Thrush cannot 
brook the confinement of the cage, and never sings in that state. 
But, except the Mocking Bird, [Turdus polyglottus,) I know of no 
native bird which is so frequently domesticated, agrees better with 
confinement, or sings in that state more agreeably than the Robin. 
They generally suffer severely in moulting time, yet often live to a 
considerable age. A lady, who resides near Tarrytown, on the banks 
of the Hudson, informed me, that she raised and kept one of these 
birds for seventeen years ; which sung as well, and looked as spright- 
ly, at that age as ever; Ijut was at last unfortunately destroyed by a 
cat. The morning is their favorite time for song. In passing through 
the streets of our large cities, on Sunday, in the months of April and 
May, a little after daybreak, the general silence which usually prevails 
without at that hour, will enable you to distinguish every house 
where one of these songsters resides, as he makes it then ring with 
his music. 

Not only the plumage of the Robin, as of many other birds, is sub- 
ject to slight periodical changes of color, but even the legs, feet, and 
bill ; the latter, in the male, being frequently found tipped and ridged 
for half its length with black. In the depth of winter, their plumage is 
generally best ; at which time the full-grown bird, in his most perfect 
dress, appears as exhibited in Fig. 5. 



WHITE-BREASTED, BLACK-CAPPED NUTHATCH.— 
SITTA CAROLINENSIS. — Fig. 6. 

Catesb. i. 22, fig-. 2.— Lath. i. 650, B. — Briss. iii. p. 596, 4. — Sitta Carolinensis, 
Turton. — SiUa Europea, Gray Black-capped Nuthatch, Bartravi, p. 289. — 
Peak's Museum, No. 20, 36. 

SITTA CAROLI^TKN'SIS.^ 

Sitta Carolinensis, Bonap. Synop. 96. — Sitta melanocephala, Vieill. Gal. des Ois. 
p. 280, pi. 174. 

The bill of this bird is black, the upper mandible straight, the 
lower one rounded upwards towards the point, and white near the 
base ; the nostrils are covered with long, curving, black hairs ; the 

* Joumeij to the Northern Ocean, p. 418, quarto. Lond. 1795. 

+ The true Nuthatches, SittcB, (for 1 would not admit ;S'. relata of Horsfield, and 
some allied species, nor the S. chrysoptera from New Holland,) are all natives of 
Europe and South America. With this restriction of geographical distribution, the 
genus will contain only four species, three of which, (S. Carolinensis, Canadensis, 
and pusilla, figured and described by our author, are confined to North America j 
and the fourth, S. Europea, has been only found in Europe. With regard to their 



WHITE-BREASTED, BLACK-CAPPED NUTHATCH. 25 

tongue is of a horny substance, and ending in several sharp points ; 
the general color above is of a light blue or lead ; tlie tail consists 
of twelve featliers, the two middle ones lead color, the next three are 
black, tipped with white for one tenth, one fourth, and half of an inch ; 
the two next are also black, tipped half an inch or more with white, 
which runs nearly an inch up their exterior edges, and both have the 
white at the tips touched with black ; the legs are of a purple or dirty 
flesh color ; the hind claw is much the largest ; the inside of the wing 
at tlie bend is black ; below this is a white spot spreading over the 
roots of the first five primaries ; the whole length is five inches and a 
half; extent, eleven. 

Mr. Pennant considers this bird as a mere variety of the European 
Nuthatch ; but if difference in size, color, and habits, be sufficient 
characteristics of a distinct species, this bird is certainly entitled to be 
considered as such. The head and back of the European species is of 
a uniform bluish gray ; the upper parts of the head, neck, and shoulders 
of ours, are a deep black, glossed with green ; the breast and belly of 
the former is a dull orange, with streaks of chestnut ; those parts in 

situation in our systems, I would prefer placing them near to Certhia, Neops, 
Anabates, Dendrocolaptes , and not far distant from the Titmice ; with the former, 
they seem intimately connected, and there appears little in their structure in com- 
mon with the Woodpeckers, except the act of running up the trunks of trees. In 
habit and general economy they resemble the Titmice, always actively employed 
in turning or twisting round the branches, or in running up or down the trunks, for 
they do both with equal facility, searching after the insects, or their eggs and larvae, 
which lie concealed under the moss, or loose bark 5 but occasionally also, like 
them, feeding upon different grains, on the seeds of the pine cones, as mentioned 
by our author, in his description of the red-bellied species ; or, according to Mon- 
tagu, like the S. Europea, frequenting the orchards during the cider season, and 
picking the seeds from the refuse of the pressed apples. In a state of confinement, 
they will thrive well upon raw meat, or fat, and if taken at a proper age, become 
extremely familiar and amusing ; if not, they will most likely destroy themselves in 
their endeavors to get free from confinement, as mentioned by the anonymous wri- 
ter of an interesting account of this bird in Loudon's Magazine of Natural Histonj. 
I had lately an opportunity of observing a nest of our native species, which had 
been taken young. They became remarkably tame ; and, when released from 
their cage, would run over their owner in all directions, up or down his body and 
limbs, poking their bills into seams or holes, as if in search of food upon some old 
and rent tree, and uttering, during the time, a low and plaintive cry. When run- 
ning up or down, they rest upon the back part of the whole tarsus, and make great 
use, as a support, of what may be called the real heel, and never use the tail. 
Their bills are comparatively strong, and the power they possess of using them 
great, equal apparently to that of a Woodpecker of like size. They breed in hol- 
low trees, and produce a rather numerous brood. The male attends carefully 
during the time. According to Montagu, our British species chooses the deserted 
habitation of some Woodpecker. " The hole is first contracted by a plaster of clay, 
leaving only sufficient room for itself to pass out and in ; the nest is made of dead 
leaves, chiefly those of the oak, which are heaped together without much order. 
If the barrier of plaster at the entrance is destroyed -when they have eggs, it is 
speedily replaced, — a peculiar instinct to prevent their nest being destroyed by 
the Woodpecker, and other birds of superior size, which build in the same manner." 
Or, as Mr. Rennie, in his late edition of the same work, thinks probable, the wall 
may be to prevent the unfledged young from tumbling out of the nest, when they 
begin to stir about. It is probable that the Nuthatch does not look forward to any 
of these considerations ; and although the effects above mentioned may be in reality 
the consequence, I should conceive the hole contracted as being really too large, 
and as increasing the heat and apparent comfort within. When roosting, they 
sleep with the head and back downwards, in the manner of several Titmice. —Ed. 
o 



26 WHITE-BREASTED, BLACK-CAPPED NUTHATCH. 

the latter are pure white. The European has a line of black passing 
through the eye, half way down the neck ; the present species has 
nothing of the kind, but appears with the inner webs of the three 
shortest secondaries and the primaries of a jet black ; the latter tipped 
with white, and the vent and lower parts of the thighs of a rust color : 
the European, therefore, and the present, are evidently two distinct 
and different species.* 

This bird builds its nest early in April, in the hole of a tree, in a 
hollow rail in the fence, and sometimes in the wooden cornice under 
the eaves ; and lays five eggs, of a dull white, spotted with brown at 
the greater end. The male is extremely attentive to the female while 
sitting ; supplying her regularly with sustenance, stopping frequently 
at the mouth of the hole, calling and offering her what he has brought, 
in the most endearing manner. Sometimes he seems to stop merely 
to inquire how she is, and to lighten the tedious moments with his 
soothing chatter. He seldom rambles far from the spot ; and when 
danger appears, regardless of his own safety, he flies instantly to 
alarm her. When both are feeding on the trunk of the same tree, or 
of adjoining ones, he is perpetually calling on her; and, from the 
momentary pause he makes, it is plain that he feels pleased to hear 
her reply. 

The White-breasted Nuthatch is common almost every where in the 
woods of North America, and may be known, at a distance, by the 
notes, quank, quank, frequently repeated, as he moves, upward and 
down, in spiral circles, around the body and larger branches of the 
tree, probing behind the thin scaly bark of the white oak, and shelling 
off considerable pieces of it, in search after spiders, ants, insects, and 
their larvjE. He rests and roosts with his head downwards, and ap- 
pears to possess a degree of curiosity not common to many birds ; 
frequently descending, very silently, within a few feet of the root of 
the tree where you happen to stand, stopping, head downward, stretch- 
ing out his neck in a horizontal position, as if to reconnoitre your 
appearance ; and, after several minutes of silent observation, wheeling 
round, he again mounts, with fresh activity, piping his unisons as be- 
fore. Strongly attached to his native forests, he seldom forsakes 
them ; and, amidst the rigors of the severest winter weather, his note 
is still heard in the bleak and leafless woods, and among the howling 
branches. Sometimes the rain, freezing as it falls, encloses every 
twig, and even the trunk of the tree, in a hard, transparent coat or 
shell of ice. On these occasions I have observed his anxiety and 
dissatisfaction, at being, with difficulty, able to make his way along 
the smooth surface ; at these times generally abandoning the trees, 
gleaning about the stables, around the house, mixing among the fowls, 
entering the barn, and examining the beams and rafters, and every 
place where he may pick up a subsistence. 

The name Nuthatch has been bestowed on this family of birds, 
from their supposed practice of breaking nuts by repeated hatchings, 
or hammerings with their bills. Soft-shelled nuts, such as chestnuts, 

* Wilson is perfectly correct in considerinji^ this species as distinct from tliat of 
Europe ; he has marked out the distinctions well in the description. It is described 
bv Vieillol as Sitta melanocephala, — Ed. 



RED-BELLIED, BLACK-CAPPED NUTHATCH. 27 

chinkopins, and hazel-nuts, they may, probably, be able to demolish, 
though I have never yet seen them so engaged ; but it must be rather 
in search of maggots, that sometimes breed there, than for the kerneL 
It is, however, said, tliat they lay up a large store of nuts for winter ; 
but, as I have never either found any of tlieir magazines, or seen 
tliem collecting them, I am inclined to doubt the fact. From the 
great numbers I have opened at all seasons of the year, I have every 
reason to believe that ants, bugs, small seeds, insects, and their larvae, 
form their chief subsistence, such matters alone being uniformly found 
in their stomachs. Neither can I see what necessity they could have 
to circumambulate the trunks of trees with such indefatigable and 
restless diligence, while bushels of nuts lay scattered round their 
roots. As to the circumstance, mentioned by Dr. Plott, of the Euro- 
pean Nutliatch " putting its bill into a crack in the bough of a tree, 
and making such a violent sound, as if it was rending asunder," this, 
if true, would be sufficient to distinguish it from the species we have 
been just describing, which possesses no such faculty.* The female 
differs little from the male in color, chiefly in the black being less 
deep on the head and wings. 



RED-BELLIED, BLACK-CAPPED NUTHATCH — SITTA 
VARIA. — Fig "* 

SiUa vana, Bar-i. p. 289. — Sitla Canadensis. Turton. — Smai. Nlitnai^n Lain 

bITTA CAJVjlDEJVSrS. — I.iii«MV 

Sitta Canadensis, Bonap. Synop. p. 96. 

This bird is much smaller than the last, measuring only four inches 
and a half in length, and eight inches in extent. In the form of its 
bill, tongue, nostrils, and in the color of the back and tail-feathers, it 
exactly agrees with the former ; the secondaries are not relieved with 
the deep black of the other species ; and the legs, feet, and claws, are 
of a dusky greenish yellow ; the upper part of the head is black, 
bounded by a stripe of white passing round the frontlet ; a line of 

* When the Nuthatch cracks or splits nuts, or stones of fruit, it is for the kernels 
alone 5 it is seen, from our various accounts, to be both a seed and grain eater- 
The very curious manner in which our own Nuthatch splits nuts seems perfectly 
proved by several observers ; and it is no less curious, that the same place is often 
resorted to diflerent times in succession, as if it were more fit than another, or required 
less labor than to seek a new situation. Montagu says, that the most favorite po- 
sition for breaking a nut is with the head downwards ; and that in autumn it is no 
uncommon thing to find in the crevices of the bark of an old tree a great many 
broken nutshells, the work of this bird, who repeatedly returns to the same spot for 
this purpose : when it has fixed die nut firm in a chink, it turns on all sides to strike 
it with most advantage ; this, with the common hazel-nut, is a work of some labor j 
but it breaks a filbert with ease. — Ed. 



28 RED-BELLIED; BLACK-CAPPED NUTHATCH. 

black passes through the eye to the shoulder; below this is another 
line of white; the chin is white; the other under parts a light rust 
color, the primaries and whole wings a dusky lead color. The breast 
and belly of the female are not of so deep a brown, and the top of 
the head is less intensely black. 

This species is migratory, passing from the north, where they breed, 
to the Southern States in October, and returning in April. Its voice 
is sharper, and its motions much quicker than those of the other, being 
so rapid, restless, and small, as to make it a difficult point to shoot 
one of them. When the two species are in the woods together, they 
are easily distinguished by their voices, the note of the least being 
nearly an octave sharper than that of its companion, and repeated 
more hurriedly. In other respects, their notes are alike unmusical 
and monotonous. Approaching so near to each other in tlieir colors 
and general habits, it is probable that their mode of building, &c., 
may be also similar. 

Baffon's Torchepot de la Canada (Canada Nuthatch of other Euro- 
pean writers) is either a young bird of the present species, in its 
imperfect plumage, or a different sort, that rarely visits the United 
States. If the figure {PL enl. 623) be correctly colored, it must be 
tlie latter, as the tail and head appear of the same bluisli gray or lead 
color as the back. The young birds of this species, it may be ob- 
served, have also the crown of a lead color during the first season ; 
but the tail-feathers are marked nearly as those of the old ones. 
Want of precision in the figures and descriptions of these authors 
makes it difficult to determine ; but I think it very probable, that 
Sitta Jamaictnsis minor, Briss., the Least Loggerhead of Brown, Sitta 
Jamakensis var. t st Linn., and Sitta Canadensis of Linnaeus, Gmelin, 
and Brisson, are names that have been originally applied to different 
individuals of the species we are now describing. 

This bird is particularly fond of the seeds of pine-trees. You may 
traverse many thousand acres of oak, hickory, and chestnut woods, 
during winter, without meeting with a single individual ; but no 
sooner do you enter among the pines than, if the air be still, you have 
only to listen for a few moments, and tlieir note will direct you w^here 
to find them. They usually feed in pairs, climbing about in all di- 
rections, generally accompanied by the former species, as well as by 
the Titmouse, Parus atricapiUus, and the Crested Titmouse, Parus 
bicolor, and not unfrequently by the Small-spotted Woodpecker, Picus 
pubescens ; the whole company proceeding regularly from tree to 
tree tlirough the woods like a corps of pioneers ; while, in a calm day, 
the rattling of their bills, and the rapid motions of their bodies, 
thrown, like so many tumblers and rope-dancers, into numberless 
positions, together with the peculiar chatter of each, are altogether 
very amusing ; conveying the idea of hungry diligence, bustle, and 
activity.* Both these little birds, from the great quantity of destruc- 

* It is curious to remark the similarit\', as it were, in the ieeVmg and disposition 
oi" some species. In this country, during^ ^vinter, wlien the diflerent kinds have laid 
aside those ties which connected them hv sexual intercourse, nothing is more com- 
mon than to see a whole troop of the Blue. Marsh, Cole, and Long^-tailed Titmice, 
accompanied with a host of Golden-crested Wrens, and perhaps a solitary Creepoj, 
proceed in the maimer here mentioned, and reg^ilarly follow each other, as if rn 



GOLD-WINGED WOODPECKER. 29 

tive insects and larvse tliey destroy, both under tlie bark and among 
the tender buds of our fruit and forest trees, are entitled to, and truly 
deserving of, our esteem and protection. 



GOLD-WLXGED WOODPECKER. — PICUS AURATUS. — Fig. 8. 

Le pic aux ailes dorees, De Buffon, vii. 39, PL enl. 693. — Picus auratus, Linn. Syst. 
174. — Cuculus alls de auratis, Klein, p. 30. — Catesby, i. 18. — Latham, ii. 
bTi.—Bartram, p. 289. — PeaZe's 31useum, No. 1938. 

COLjIPTES ^{7/2^7T7S. — Swainson.* 

Picus auratus. Penri. Arct. Zool. ii. p. 270. — Wagler. No. 84. — Bonap. Synop. 
p. 44. — Golden-winged Woodpecker, And. i. p. 191. — Coiaptes auratus, North. 
Zool. ii. 314. 

This elegant bird is well known to our farmers and junior sports- 
men, who take every opportunity of destroying him ; the former, for 
the supposed trespasses he conunits on their Indian corn, or tlie trifle 

a laid-out path. An alarm may cause a temporary digression of some of the 
troop ; but these are soon perceived making up their way to the main boily. The 
whole may be found out, and traced by their various and constantly reiterated 
cries. — Ed. 

* This beautiful species is typical of one form among the Piciance, and has 
been designated under the above title by Mr. Swainson. The form appears to 
range in North and South America, the West Indian Islands, and in Africa 5 our 
present species is confined to North America alone. They are at once distinguished 
from the true Woodpeckers and the other groups, by the curved and compressed 
bill, the broad and strong shafts of the quills, which are also generally brightly 
colored, and appear very conspicuous during flight when the wings are expanded. 
In the typical species they are of a bright golden yellow, whence the common 
name ; and in one closely allied, the C. Mexicanus, Sw., of a bright reddish orange ; 
in a third, C. Brasiliensis , they are of a pale straw yellow. The upper parts of 
the plumage are, in general, barred, and the feathers on the hind head are of a 
uniform length, never crested. A difference in form will always produce a differ- 
ence in habit ; and we accordindy find that these birds more frequently perch on 
the branches, and feed a great deal upon the ground ; they seem also to possess 
more of the activity of the Nuthatch and Titmice than the regular climb of the typical 
Woodpeckers. The Golden-winged Woodpecker is known to feed a great deal 
upon ants, seeking them about the hills, and, according to Mr. Audubon, also picks 
up grains and seed from the ground. In a Brazilian species, Picus campestris of 
Spix and Martins, we have analogous habits ; and, as the name implies, it is often 
seen upon the ground, frequenting the ordure of cattle, and turning it over in search 
of insects 5 or in the neighborhood of ant hills, where they find an abundant and 
very favorite food. W^e find also the general development of form joined to habit, 
in the typical form of another group, tlie common Green and Gray-headed Wood- 
peckers of Europe, which feed much on ants, and of course seek them on the 
ground. 

Mons. Lesson, in his Manual d'Ornithologie, has given it the title of Cutupicus, 
making the African species typical. He of course was not aware of its having 
been previously characterized ; and in that of America, all the forms are more 
dearly developed. 

The C. Mexicanus, mentioned before, was met with in the last over-land expedi- 
tion, and will form an addition to the North American species : it was killed by Mr 

3* 



30 GOLD-WINGED WOODPECKER. 

he will bring in market ; and the latter for the mere pleasure of de- 
struction, and perhaps for the flavor of his flesh, which is in general 
esteem. In the state of Pennsylvania, he can scarcely be called a 
bird of passage, as, even in severe winters, they may be found within 
a few miles of the city of Philadelphia ; and I have known them ex- 
posed for sale in market every Aveek during the months of November, 
December, and January, and that, too, in more than commonly rigor- 
ous weather. They no doubt, however partially, migrate even here ; 
being much more numerous in spring and fall, than in winter. Early 
in the month of April, they begin to prepare their nest, which is built 
in the hollow body or branch of a tree, sometimes, tliough not always, 
at a considerable height from the gi-ound ; for I have frequently 
known them fix on the trunk of an old apple-tree, at not more than 
six feet from the root. The sagacity of this bird in discovering, 
under a sound bark, a hollow limb or trunk of a tree, and its pei*se- 
verance in perforating it for the purpose of incubation, are truly 
surprising; the male and female alternately relieving and encoura- 
ging each other, by mutual caresses, renewing their labors for several 
days, till the object is attained, and the place rendered sufliciently 
capacious, convenient, and secure. At this employment they are so 
extremely intent, that they may be heard till a very late hour in the 
evening, thumping like carpenters. I have seen an instance where 
they had dug first five inches straight forward, ana then downward 
more than twice that distance, through a solid black oak. They 
carry in no materials for their nest, the soft chips and dust of the 
wood serving for this purpose. The female lays six white eggs, 
almost transparent, very thick at the greater end, and tapering sud- 
denly to the otlier. The young early leave the nest, and, climbing 
to the higher branches, are there fed by their parents. 

The food of this bird varies v.-ith the season. As the common 
cherries, bird cherries, and berries of the sour gum successively ripen, 
he regales plentil'ully on them, particularly on the latter; but the 
chief food of this species, or that which is most usually found in his 
stomach, is wood-lice, and the young and larvse of ants, of which he 
is so immoderately fond, that I have frequently found his stomach 
distended with a mass of these, and these only, as large nearly as a 
plumb. For the procuring of these insects, nature has remarkably 
fitted him: the bills of Woodpeckers, in general, are straight, grooved 
or channelled, wedge-shaped, and compressed to a thin edge at the 
end, that they may the easier penetrate the hardest wood ; that of the 
Gold-winged Woodpecker is long, slightly bent, ridged only on the 
top, and tapering almost to a point, yet still retaining a little of the 
wedge form there. Botli, however, are admirably adapted for the 
peculiar manner each has of procuring its food ; the former, like a 
powerful wedge, to penetrate the dead and decaying branches, after 
worms and insects ; the latter, like a long and sharp pick-axe, to dig 
up the hillocks of pismires, that inliabit old stumps in prodigious 
multitudes. These beneficial ser\'ices would entitle him to some 



David Douorlas to the westward of the Rocky Mountains. The more common 
country is Mexico, whence it extends alon<j the shores olthe Pacific, some distance 
northward of the Columbia River, and to New CaUlbrnia. — Ed. 



GOLD-WINGED WOODPECKER. 31 

regard from the husbandman, were he not accused, and perhaps not 
without just cause, of being too partial to the Indian corn, when in 
that state which is usually called roasting-ears. His visits are indeed 
rather frequent about this time ; and the fanner, suspecting what is 
going on, steals through among the rows with his gun, bent on ven- 
geance, and forgetful of the benevolent sentiment of the poet, that 

Just as wide of justice he must fall, 
Who thinks all made for one, not one for all. 

But farmers, in general, are not much versed in poetry, and pretty 
well acquainted with the value of corn, from the hard labor requisite 
in raising it 

In rambling through the woods one day, I happened to shoot one of 
tliese birds, and wounded him slightly in the wing. Finding him in 
full feather, and seemingly but little hurt, I took him home, and put 
him into a large cage, made of willows, intending to keep him in my 
own room, that we might become better acquainted. As soon as he 
found himself enclosed on all sides, he lost no time in idle fluttering, 
but, throwing himself against the bars of the cage, began instantly to 
demolish the willows, battering them Avith great vehemence, and ut- 
tering a loud, piteous kind of cackling, similar to that of a hen when 
she is alarmed and takes to wing. Poor Baron Trenck never labored 
with more eager diligence at the walls of his prison, than this son of 
the forest in his exertions for liberty ; and he exercised his powerful 
bill Avith such force, digging into the sticks, seizing and shaking them 
so from side to side, that he soon opened for himself a passage ; and, 
tliough I repeatedly repaired the breach, and barricadoed every open- 
ing, in the best manner I could, yet, on my return into the room, I 
always found him at large, climbing up the chairs, or running about 
the floor, where, from the dexterity of his motions, moving backward, 
forward, and sidewise, with the same facility, it became difficult to get 
hold of him again. Having placed him in a strong wire cage, he 
seemed to give up all hopes of making his escape, and soon became 
very tame ; fed on young ears of Indian corn ; refused apples, but ate 
the berries of the sour gum greedily, small winter grapes, and several 
other kinds of berries ; exercised himself frequently in climbing, or 
rather hopping perpendicularly along the sides of the cage ; and, as 
evening drew on, fixed himself in a high hanging, or perpendicular 
position, and slept with his head in his Aving. As soon as dawn 
appeared, even before it was light enough to perceive him distinctly 
across the room, he descended to the bottom of the cage, and began 
his attack on the ears of Indian corn, rapping so loud, as to be heard 
from every room in the house. After this, he would sometimes resume 
his former position, and take another nap. He was beginning to 
become very amusing, and even sociable, when, after a lapse of 
several Aveeks, he became drooping, and died, as I conceived, from 
the effects of his wound.* 



* Mr. Audubon says they live Avell in confinement. •' The Golden-winged 
Woodpecker never suffers its naturally lively spirit to droop. It feeds well 3 and 
by way of amusement will continue to destroy as much furniture in a day, as can 
well be mended by a different kind of workman in a week." The same gentleman, 



32 GOLD-WINGED WOODPECKER. 

Some European naturalists (and, among the rest, Linnaeus himself, 
in his tenth edition of Systema JVaturct) have classed this bird with the 
genus Cuculus, or Cuckoo, informing their readers, that it possesses 
many of the habits of the Cuckoo ; that it is almost always on the 
ground ; is never seen to climb trees like the other Woodpeckers, and 
that its bill is altogether unlike theirs ; every one of which assertions, 
I must say, is incorrect, and could have only proceeded from an entire 
unacquaintance with the manners of the bird. Except in the article 
of the bill — and that, as has been before observed, is still a little 
wedge-formed at the point — it differs in no one characteristic from 
the rest of its genus. Its nostrils are covered with tufts of recum- 
bent hairs, or small feathers ; its tongue is round, worm-shaped, flat- 
tened towards the tip, pointed, and furnished with minute barbs ; it is 
also long, missile, and can be instantaneously protruded to an uncom- 
mon distance. The os hyoides, or internal parts of the tongue, like 

when speaking- of their flight, again adds, that it is more " strong and prolonged, 
being- performed in a straighter manner, than an}^ other of our Woodpeckers. 
They propel themselves by numerous beats of the wings, -with short intervals of 
sailing-, during which they scarcely fall from the horizontal. When passing from 
one tree to another, they also fly in a straight line, until within a few yards of the 
spot on which they intend to alight, when they suddenly raise themselves a few 
feet, and fasten themselves to the bark of the trunk by their claws and tail. Their 
migrations, although partial, (as many remain even iii the middle districts during- 
the severest winters,) are performed under night, as is known by their note and the 
whistling of their wings, which are heard from the ground." Of its movement he 
also speaks : " It easily moves sidewise on a small branch, keeping itself as erect 
as other birds usually do; but with equal care does it climb by leaps along the 
trunks of trees or their branches, descend, and move sidewise or spirally, keeping at 
all times its head upwards, and its tail pressed against the bark, as a support." 

I have thus at length transcribed Mr. Audubon's minuter details, as tending to 
show the differences of habit in this form, which will be still better observed when 
compared with those we have yet to describe. 

There is another peculiarity in these birds, and some others of the genus, men- 
tioned by Mr. Audubon, which does not seem to have been noticed before, though 
I am not sure that it is confined to the Pici only. In many of our Sandpipers — 
the Purre, for instance — the first plumage is that of the adult female in the nuptial 
dress ; and, in those which have black breasts, an occasional tinge of that color 
may be traced. A great portion of these also receive at least a part of the winter 
dress during the first year. What I have alluded to is as follows, and it may be 
well that it is attended to in the description of the different species of Woodpeckers ; 
Mr. Audubon, however, uses the word "frequently," as if it were not a constant 
appearance in the young : — '^ In this species, as in a few others, there is a singular 
arrangement in the coloring of the feathers of the upper part of the head, which I 
conceive it necessary for me to state, that it may enable persons better qualified 
than myself to decide as to the reasons of such arrangement. The young of this 
species frequently have the whole upper part of the head tinged with red, which, at 
the approach of winter, disappears, when merely a circular line of that color is to 
be observed on the hind part, becoming of a rich silky vermilion tint. The Hairy, 
Downy, and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are subject to the same extraordinary 
changes, which, as far as I know, never reappear at any future period of their lives. 
I was at first of opinion, that this change appeared only on the head of the male 
birds ; but, on dissection, I found it equally affecting both sexes. I am induced to 
believe, that, in consequence of this, many young Woodpeckers, of diflerent species, 
have been described and figured as forming distinct species themselves. I have 
shot dozens of young Woodpeckers in this peculiar state of plumage, which, on 
being shown to other persons, were thought by them to be of different species from 
what the birds actually were. This occurrence is the more worthy of nolice, as it 
is exhibited on all the species of this genus, on the heads of which, when in full 
plumage, a very narrow line exists." — Ed. 



GOLD-WINGED WOODPECKER. 33 

those of its tribe, is a substance for strength and elasticity resembling" 
whalebone, divided into two branches, each the thickness of a knitting 
needle, that pass, one on each side of the neck, to tlie hind head, 
where they unite, and run up along the skull in a groove, covered with 
a thin membrane, or sheath; descond into the upper mandible by the 
right side of the right nostril, and reach to within half an inch of the 
point of the bill, to which they are attached by another extremely 
elastic membrane, that yields when the tongue is thrown out, and 
contracts as it is retracted. In the other Woodj)eckers we behold the 
same apparatus, differing a little in different species. In some, these 
cartilaginous substances reach only to the top of the cranium; in 
others, they reach to the nostril ; and in one species they are wound 
round the bone of the right eye, which projects considerably more 
than the left for its accommodation. 

The tongue of the Gold-winged Woodpecker, like the others, is 
also supplied with a viscid fluid, secreted by two glands that lie 
under the ear on each side, and are at least five times larger in this 
species than in any other of its size ; with this the tongue is continu- 
ally moistened, so that every small insect it touches instantly adheres 
to it. The tail, in its strength and pointedness, as well as the feet 
and claws, prove that the bird was designed for climbing ; and in 
fact I have scarcely ever seen it on a tree five minutes at a time 
without climbing; hopping not only upward and downward, but 
spirally; pursuing and playing with its fellow in this manner round 
the body of the tree. I have also seen them a hundred times alight 
on the trunk of the tree, though they more frequently alight on the 
branches ; but that they climb, construct like nests, lay the same 
number and the like-colored eggs, and have the manners and habits 
of the Woodpeckers, is notorious to every American naturalist; 
Avhile neither in the form of their body, nor any other part, except in 
the bill being somewhat bent, and the toes placed two before and two 
behind, have they the smallest resemblance whatever to the Cuckoo. 

It may not be improper, however, to observe, that there is another 
species of Woodpecker, called also Gold-winged,* which inhabits the 
country near the Cape of Good Hope, and resembles the present, it is 
said, almost exactly in the color and form of its bill, and in the tint 
and markings of its plumage, with this difference, that the mustaches 
are red, instead of black, and the lower side of the wings, as well as 
their shafts, are also red, where the other is golden yellow. It is also 
considerably less. With respect to the habits of this new species, 
we have no particular account ; but there is little doubt that they 
will be found to correspond with the one we are now describing. 

The abject and degraded character which the Count de Buffon, 
with equal eloquence and absurdity, has dra^vn of the whole tribe of 
Woodpeckers, belongs not to the elegant and sprightly bird noAv 
before us. How far it is applicable to any of them will be examined 
hereafter. He is not " constrained to drag out an insipid existence in 
boring the bark and hard fibres of trees to extract his prey," for he 
frequently finds in the loose, mouldering ruins of an old stump (the 
capital of a nation of pismires) more than is sufficient for the wants 

* Picus cafer, Turton's Linn. 



34 GOLD-WINGED WOODPECKER. 

of a whole week. He cannot be said to " lead a mean and gloomy 
life, without an intermission of labor," who usually feasts by the first 
peep of dawn, and spends the early and sweetest hours of morning 
on the highest peaks of the tallest trees, calling on his mate or com- 
panions ; or pursuing and gamboling with them round the larger 
limbs and body of the tree for hours together ; for such are really his 
habits. Can it be said, that "necessity never grants an interval of 
sound repose" to that bird, who, while other tribes are exposed to all 
the peltings of the midnight storm, lodges dry and secure in a snug 
chamber of his own constructing ? or that " the narrow circumference 
of a tree circumscribes his dull round of life," who, as seasons and 
inclination inspire, roams from the frigid to the torrid zone, feasting on 
the abundance of various regions ? Or is it a proof that " his appe- 
tite is never softened by delicacy of taste," because he so often varies 
his bill of fare, occasionally preferring to animal food the rich milki- 
ness of young Indian corn, and the wholesome and nourishing berries 
of the wild cherry, sour gum, and red cedar ? Let the reader turn to 
the faithful representation of him given in Fig. 8, and say whether 
his looks be " sad and melancholy." It is truly ridiculous and aston- 
ishing that such absurdities should escape the lips or pen of one so 
able to do justice to the respective merits of every species; but 
Buffon had too often a favorite theory to prop up, that led him in- 
sensibly astray ; and so, forsooth, the whole family of Woodpeckers 
must look sad, sour, and be miserable, to satisfy the caprice of a 
whimsical philosopher, who takes it into his head that they are, and 
ought to be so ! 

But the count is not the only European who has misrepresented 
and traduced this beautiful bird. One has given him brown legs;* 
another a yellow neck ;f a third has declared him a Cuckoo ;| and, 
in an English translation of Linnseus's System of JVature, lately 
published, he is characterized as follows : " Body, striated with black 
and gray ; cheeks, red ; chin, black ; never climbs on trees ;" § which 
is just as correct as if, in describing the human species, we should 
say, — Skin, striped with black and green ; cheeks, blue ; chin, orange ; 
never walks on foot, &c. The pages of natural history should re- 
semble a faithful mirror, in which mankind may recognize the true 
images of the living originals ; instead of which, we find this depart- 
ment of them too often like the hazy and rough medium of wretched 
window-glass, through whose crooked protuberances every thing 
appears so strangely distorted, that one scarcely knows their most 
intimate neighbors and acquaintances. 

The Gold-winged Woodpecker has the back and wings above of a 
dark umber, transversely marked with equidistant streaks of black ; 
upper part of the head, an iron gray ; cheeks and parts surrounding 
the eyes, a fine cinnamon color ; from the lower mandible a strip of 
black, an inch in length, passes down each side of the throat, and a 
lunated spot, of a vivid blood red, covers the hind head, its two 
points reaching within half an inch of each eye ; the sides of the 

* See Encyc. Brit. art. Picus. f Latham. | Klein. 

§ P. griseo nigroque transversim slrialus truncos arborum non scandit.— - 

In'd. Oni. vol. i. p. 242. 



GOLD-WINGED WOODPECKER. 35 

neck, below this, incline to a bluish gray ; throat and chin, a very 
light cinnamon or fawn color; the breast is ornamented with a broad 
crescent of deep black; tlie belly and vent, white, ting-ed with yellow, 
and scattered with innumerable round spots of black, every featlier 
having a distinct central spot, those on the thighs and vent being 
heart-shaped and largest ; tlie lower or inner side of the M-ing and 
tail, shafts of all the larger feathers, and indeed of almost every 
feather, are of a beautiful golden yellow ; that on the shafts of the 
primaries being very distinguishable, even when the Avings are shut ; 
the rump is white, and remarkably prominent; tlie tail-coverts white, 
and curiously serrated with black ; upper side of the tail, and the tip 
below, black, edged with light, loose filaments of a cream color, the 
two exterior feathers serrated with whitish ; shafts, black towards the 
tips, the two middle ones, nearly wholly so ; bill, an inch and a half 
long, of a dusky horn color, somewhat bent, ridged only on the top, 
tapering, but not to a point, that being a little wedge-formed ; legs 
and feet, light blue; iris of the eye, hazel; length, twelve inches; 
extent, twenty. The female differs from the male chiefly in the 
greater obscurity of the fine colors, and in wanting the black mus- 
taches on each side of the throat. This description, as well as the 
drawing, was taken from a very beautiful and perfect specimen. 

Though this species, generally speaking, is migratory, yet they 
often remain with us in Pennsylvania during the whole winter. They 
also inhabit the continent of North America, from Hudson's Bay to 
Georgia ; and have been found by voyagers on the north-west coast of 
America. They arrive at Hudson's Bay in April, and leave it in Sep- 
tember. Mr. Hearne, however, informs us, that " the Gold-winged 
Woodpecker is almost the only species of Woodpecker that winters 
near Hudson's Bay." The natives there call it Ou-thee-quan-nor-ow, 
from the golden color of the shafts and lower side of the wings. It 
has numerous provincial appellations in the different states of the 
Union, such as " High-hole," from the situation of its nest, and "Hit- 
tock," " Yucker," " Piut," " Flicker," by which last it is usually known in 
Pennsylvania. These names have probably originated from a fancied 
resemblance of its notes to the sound of the words ; for one of its 
most common cries consists of two notes, or syllables, frequently re- 
peated, which, by the help of the hearer's imagination, may easily be 
made to resemble any or all of them. 



36 BLACK-THROATED BUNTING. 



BLACK-THROATED BUNTING. — EMBERIZA 
AMERICANA. — Fig. 9. 

Calandra pratensis,. the May-bird, Bartram, p. 29L — Peak's Museum, No. 5952. — 
Arct. Zool. 228. — Emberiza Americana, Ind. Orn. p. 44. 

EMBERIZA jlMERICAJr^.—hwis^vs* 

Fring-illa Americana, Bonap. Sijnop. 107. 

Of this bird I have but little to say. They arrive in Pennsylvania 
from the south about the middle of May ; abound in the neighborhood 
of Philadelphia, and seem to prefer level fields covered with rye- 
grass, timothy, or clover, where they build their nest, fixing it in the 
ground, and forming it of fine, dried grass. The female lays five 
white eggs, sprinkled with specks and lines of black. Like most part 
of their genus, they are nowise celebrated for musical powers. Their 
whole song consists of five notes, or, more properly, of two notes ; 
the first repeated twice, and slowly, the second thrice, and rapidly, 
resembling chip, chip, che cJie che. Of this ditty, such as it is, they are 
by no means parsimonious, for, from their first arrival for the space of 
two or three months, every level field of grain or grass is perpetually 
serenaded with chip, chip, che che che. In their siiape and manners 
they very much resemble the Yellow-Hammer of Britain [E. citrinella ;) 
like them, they are fond of mounting to tlie top of some half-grown 
tree, and there cheruping for half an hour at a time. In travelling 
through different parts of New York and Pennsylvania in spring and 
summer, wherever I came to level fields of deep grass, I have con- 
stantly heard these birds around me. In August they become mute ; 
and soon after, that is, towards the beginning of September, leave us 
altogether. 

The Black-throated Bunting is six inches and a half in length ; 
the upper part of the head is of a dusky greenish yellow ; neck, dark 
ash ; breast, inside shoulders of the wing, line over the eye, and at 
the lower angle of the bill, yellow ; chin, and space between the bill 
and eye, white ; throat, covered with a broad, oblong, somewhat heart- 
shaped patch of black, bordered on each side with white ; back, 

* America has no birds perfectly typical with the Emberizce of Europe; the 
group appears to assume two forms, under modifications, that of E. miliaria, with 
the bill of considerable strength, and that of the weaker make, of E. schcrnicubis. 
To the former will be allied our present species 5 under the latter will rank the 
small F. socialis, inelodia, and palustris, &lc. ; the form is further represented in 
North America by Plectropkanes and Pipilo, and may be said to run into the Finches 
by means of the latter, and Mr. Swainson's genus, Zonotricliia. The principal 
variations are the want, or smallness, of the palatial knob, and the wideness of the 
upper mandible, which exceeds tiiat of the lower, while the reverse is the case in 
llie true birds. Vieillot, I believe, proposed Passerina for some birds, but in- 
cluded many that were not so nearly allied, and Bonaparte has proposed Spi:a to 
receive therii, and to stand as a subgenus of Frinccilla. We think the form, color- 
ing, and markings, joined with their song and habit, associates them much closer to 
^mbenza, and as such have at present retained them. — Ed. 



BLUE-BIRD. 37 

rump, and tail, ferriijxinous, the first streaked with black; wings, 
deep dusky, edged witli a light clay color ; lesser coverts and whole 
shoulder of the wing, bright bay ; belly and vent, dull white ; bill, 
light blue, dusky above, strong and powerful for breaking seeds ; legs 
and feet, brown ; iris of the eye, hazel. The female differs from the 
male in having little or no black on the breast, nor streak of yellow 
over the eye ; beneath the eye she has a dusky streak, running in the 
direction of the jaw. In all those I opened, the stomach was filled 
with various seeds, gravel, eggs of insects, and sometimes a slimy 
kind of earth or clay. 

This bird has been figured by Latham, Pennant, and several others. 
The former speaks of a bird which he thinks is either the same, or 
nearly resembling it, that resides in summer in the country about 
Hudson's Bay, and is often seen associating in flights with the Geese.* 
This habit, however, makes me suspect that it must be a different spe- 
cies ; for, while with us here, the Black-throated Bunting is never 
gregarious, but is almost always seen singly, or in pairs, or, at most, 
the individuals of one family together. 



BLUE-BIRD— SYLVIA SIALIS.— Fig. 10. 

Le rouge gorge bleu, De Buffori, v. 212. PI. enl. 390. — Blue Warbler, Lath. ii. 
446. — Catesb. i. 47. — 3Iotaci!la Sialis, Linn. Syst. 336. — Bartram, p. 291. — 
Peace's Museum, No. 7188. 

SIALIA WILSOJ^II. — SwAiNSON.f 

The Blue Redbreast. Edw. pi. 24. — Saxicola sialis, Bonap. Synop. p. 89. — Ery- 
thaca (Sialia) Wilsonii, North. Zool. ii. p. 210. 

The pleasing manners and sociable disposition of this little bird 
entitle him to particular notice. As one of the first messengers of 
spring, bringing the charming tidings to our very doors, he bears his 

* Latham, Synopsis, Supplement, p. 158. 

t This beautiful species, interesting' both as regards its domestic economy and 
the intimate hnk which it fills up in the natural system, has been dedicated, by Mr. 
Swainson, to our autlior. It remained a solitary individual, until the discovery of 
a Mexican species by that gentleman, described under the title of S. Mexicana; 
and the return of the last over-land Arctic expedition brought forward a third, con- 
firming the views that were before held regarding it. According to these, it will 
range among the SiLcicotincc, whence it had been previously removed from Sylvia 
by Vieillot and Bonaparte, and it will hold the place, in North and South America, 
of the Robin of Europe, and the Stonechats of that country and Africa ; while, in 
New Holland, the Muscicapa multicolor, now bearing the generic title of Petroica, 
with some allied species, will represent it. The old species ranges extensively over 
North America and the northern parts of the south continent, extending also to 
some of the islands : the newly-discovered one appears confined to a more northern 
latitude. It has been described in the second volume of the Northern Zoolo^, 
under the name of /S. Arctica, and I now add the information contained in that 
valuable work : — 

"Color of the dorsal aspect, ultramarine blue ; the webs of the tertiaries, and the 

4 



38 BLUE-BIRD. 

own recommendation always along with him, and meets with a hearty 
welcome from every body. 

Though generally accounted a bu-d of passage, yet, so early as the 
middle of February, if the weather be open, he usually makes his ap- 
pearance about his old haunts, the barn, orchard, and fence posts. 
Storms and deep snows sometimes succeeding, he disappears for a 
time ; but about the middle of March is again seen, accompanied by 
his mate, visiting the box in the garden, or the hole in the old apple- 
tree, the cradle of some generations of his ancestors. " When he first 
begins his amours," says a curious and correct observer, " it is pleasing 
to behold his courtship, his solicitude to please and to secure the 
favor of his beloved female. He uses the tenderest expressions, sits 
close by her, caresses and sings to her his most endearing warblings. 
When seated together, if he espies an insect delicious to her taste, he 
takes it up, flies with it to her, spreads his Aving over her, and puts it 
in her mouth." * If a rival makes his appearance, — for they are 
ardent in their loves, — he quits her in a moment, attacks and pursues 
the intruder as he shifts from place to place, in tones that bespeak 
the jealousy of his affection, conducts him, with many reproofs, beyond 
the extremities of his territory, and returns to warble out his trans- 
ports of triumph beside his beloved mate. The preliminaries being 
thus settled, and the spot fixed on, they begin to clean out the old 
nest and the rubbish of the former year, and to prepare for the re- 
ception of their future ofispring. Soon afler this, another sociable 
little pilgrim [Motadlla domtstka House Wren) also arrives from the 
south, and, finding such a snug birth preoccupied, shows his spite, by 
watching a convenient opportunity, and, in the absence of the owner, 
popping in and pulling out sticks, but takes special care to make off 
as fast as possible. 

The female lays five, and sometimes six eggs, of a pale blue color ; 
and raises two, and sometmies three broods in a season ; the male 
taking the youngest under his particular care while the female is again 
sitting. Tlieir principal food are insects, particularly large beetles, and 
others of the coleopterous kinds that lurk among old, dead, and decay- 
ing trees. Spiders are also a favorite repast with them. In the fall, 
they occasionally regale themselves on the berries of the sour gum ; 
and, as winter approaches, on those of the red cedar, and on the fruit 
of a rough, hairy vine, that runs up and cleaves fast to the trunks of 
trees. Ripe persimmons is anotlier of their favorite dishes, and many 

lips of the inner margins of the quill and tail-feathers, dull umber brown 5 the base 
of the plumage, blackish gray. Under surface — the cheeks, throat, breast, and 
insidcs of the wings, greenish blue, bordering on the abdomen to grayish blue 3 vent- 
feathers, and under tail-coverts, white 5 tail beneath, and inside of the quill-feathers, 
olive brown, with a strong tinge of blue ; bill and feet, pitch black ; form, in general, 
that of S. \Vilsonii, but the bill is considerably narrower at the base, and propor- 
tionably larger, straighter, and less notched, and bent at the tip of the upper man- 
dible ; its ])readlh is equal to its depth 5 wings, three quarters of an inch shorter 
than the tail ; the second quill-feather is the longest ; the first and third are equal, 
and about a line shorter; the tenth is an inch and a half shorter than the second; 
tail, forked, or deeply emarginated, the central feathers being more than half an 
inch shorter than the exterior ones ; legs and feet, similarly formed with those of *S. 
Wilsonii; length, seven inches nine lines."' — Ed. 
* Letter from Mr. William Bartram to the author. 



BLUE-BIRD. 39 

other fruits and seeds which I have found in their stomachs at that 
season, which, beinor no botanist, I am unable to particularize. They 
are frequently pestered with a species of tape worm, some of which I 
have taken from their intestines of an extraordinary size, and, in some 
cases, in great numbers. Most other birds are also plagued with these 
vermin ; but the Blue-Bird seems more subject to them than any I 
know, except the Woodcock. An account of the different species of 
vermin, many of which, I doubt not, are nondescripts, tliat infest the 
plumage and intestines of our birds, would of itself form an interesting 
publication ; but, as this belono-s more properly to the entomologist, I 
shall only, in the course of this work, take notice of some of the most 
remarkable. 

The usual spring and summer song of the Blue-Bird is a soft, 
agreeable, and oft-repeated warble, uttered with open, quivering wings, 
and is extremely pleasing. In his motions and general character, he 
has great resemblance to the Robin Redbreast of Britain ; and, had 
he the brown olive of that bird, instead of his own blue, could scarcely 
be distinguished from him. Like him, he is known to almost every 
child ; and shows as much confidence in man by associating with him 
in summer, as the other by his familiarity in winter. He is also of a 
mild and peaceful disposition, seldom fighting or quarreling with other 
birds. His society is courted by the inhabitants of the country, and 
few farmers neglect to provide for him, in some suitable place, a snug 
little summer-house, ready fitted and rent free. For this he more tlian 
sufficiently repays them by the cheerfulness of his song, and the mul- 
titude of injurious insects which he daily destroys. Towards fall, that 
is, in the month of October, his song changes to a single plaintive note, 
as he passes over the yellow many-colored woods ; and its melancholy 
air recalls to our minds the approaching decay of the face of nature. 
Even after the trees are stripped of their leaves, he still lingers over his 
native fields, as if loath to leave them. About the middle or end of 
November, few or none of them are seen ; but, with every return of 
mild and open weather, we hear his plaintive note amidst the fields, 
or in the air, seeming to deplore the devastations of winter. Indeed, 
he appears scarcely ever totally to forsake us ; but to follow fair 
weather through all its journeyings till the return of spring. 

Such are the mild and pleasing manners of the Blue-Bird, and so 
universally is he esteemed, that I have often regretted that no pastoral 
muse has yet arisen in this western, woody world, to do justice to his 
name, and endear him to us still more by the tenderness of verse, as 
has been done to his representative in Britain, the Robin Redbreast 
A small acknowledgment of this kind I have to offer, which the reader, 
1 hope, will excuse as a tribute to rural innocence. 

When winter's cold tempests and snows are no more, 

Green meadows and brown furrow'd fields reappearing", 
The fishermen hauling" their shad to the shore, 

And cloud-cleaving Geese to the lakes are a-steering ; 
When first the lone butterfly flits on the wing, 

When red glow the maples, so fresh and so pleasing, — 
O then comes the Blue-Bird, the herald of spring ! 

And hails with his warblinsrs the charms of the season. 



40 BLUE-BIRD. 

Then loud-piping frogs make the marshes to ring; 

Then wann glows the sunshine, and fine is the weather ', 
The blue woodland flowers just beginning to spring, 

And spicewood and sassafras budding together : 
O then to your gardens, ye housewives, repair. 

Your walks border up. sow and plant at your leisure; 
The Blue-Bird will chant from his box such an air, 

That all your hard toils will seem truly a pleasure 1 

He flits through the orchard, he visits each tree. 

The red-flowering peach, and the apple's sweet blossoms j 
He snaps up destroyers wherever they be, 

And seizes the caitifl's that lurk in their bosoms ; 
He drags the vile grub from the com it devours. 

The worms from their webs, where they riot and welter j 
His song and his services freely are ours. 

And all that he asks is — in summer a shelter. 

The ploughman is pleased when he gleans in his tram, 

Now searching the furrows, now mounting to cheer him j 
The gardener delights in his sweet, simple strain, 

And leans on his spade to survey and to hear him , 
The slow, lingering schoolboys forget they'll be chid^ 

While gazing intent as he Avarbles before them, 
In mantle of sky-blue, and bosom so red. 

That each little loiterer seems to adore him. 

When all the gay scenes of the summer are o'er, 

And autumn slow enters, so silent and sallow, 
And millions of warblers, that charm'd us before, 

Have fled in the train of the sun-seeking Swallow, 
The Blue-Bird, forsaken, yet true to his home. 

Still lingers, and looks for a milder to-morrow, 
Till, forced by the horrors of winter to roam, 

He sings his adieu in a lone note of sorrow. 

While spring's lovely season, serene, dewy, warm, 

The green face of earth, and the pure blue of heaven, 
Or love's native music have influence to charm. 

Or sympathy's glow to our feelings are given. 
Still dear to each bosom the Blue-Bird shall be ; 

His voice, like the thrillings of hope, is a treasure ; 
For, through bleakest storms, if a calm he but see. 

He comes to remind us of sunshine and pleasure ! 

The Blue-Bird, in summer and fall, is fond of frequenting open pas- 
ture fields, and there perching on the stalks of the great mullein, to 
look out for passing insects. A whole family of them are often seen 
thius situated, as if receiving lessons of dexterity from their more ex- 
pert parents, who can espy a beetle crawling among the grass, at a 
considerable distance ; and, after feeding on it, instantly restmie their 
fonner position.* But whoever infonned Dr. Latham, tliat " this bird 

* The very habits of our European Soxicolce are here described ; they invariably 
seek the summit of some elevation, a hillock, a stone, bush, or some of the taller 
wild plants, and if occasionally on a tree, the topmost branch is always preferred ; 
there they perch, uttering their monotonous call, which increases in anxiety zuid 
frequency as we approach the nest, or the young before they are able to fly; or 
ihcy alight at intervals, run for some distance, and again remount to a fresh station. 
When not annoyed, they retain the same elevated situations, looking out for food, 
taking the insects seldom on the wing, but generally by a sudden spring, or leap 



BLUE-BIRD. 41 

is never seen on trees, though it makes its nest in the holes of them ! " * 
might as well have said, that the Americans are never seen in the 
streets, though they build their houses by the sides of them. For what 
is there in the construction of the feet and claws of this bird to prevent 
it from perching ? Or what sight more common to an inliabitant of 
tliis country than the Blue-Bird perched on the top of a peach or apple- 
tree ; or among the branches of those reverend, broad-armed chestnut- 
trees, that stand alone in the middle of our fields, bleached by the 
rains and blasts of ages ? 

The Blue-Bird is six inches and three quarters in length, the wings 
remarkably full and broad ; the whole upper parts are of a rich sky 
blue, with purple reflections ; the bill and legs are black ; inside of 
the mouth and soles of tlie feet, yellow, resembling the color of a ripe 
persinmion ; the shafts of all the wing and tail-feathers are black ; 
throat, neck, breast, and sides, partially under the wings, chestnut ; 
wings, dusky black at the tips ; belly and vent, white ; sometimes the 
secondaries are exteriorly light brown, but the bird has in that case 
not arrived at his full color. The female is easily distinguished by 
the duller cast of the back, the plumage of which is skirted with light 
brown, and by the red on the breast being much fainter, and not de- 
scending nearly so low as in the male ; the secondaries are also more 
dusky. This species is found over the whole United States ; in the 
Bahama Islands, where many of them winter; as also in Mexico, 
Brazil, and Guiana. 

Mr. Edwards mentions, that the specimen of this bird which he was 
favored with, was sent from the Bermudas ; and, as these islands 
abound with the cedar, it is highly probable that many of those birds 
pass from our continent thence, at the commencement of winter, to 
enjoy the mildness of that climate as well as their favorite food. 

As the Blue-Bird is so regularly seen in winter, after the contin- 
uance of a few days of mild and open weather, it has given rise to 
various conjectures as to the place of his retreat ; some supposing it 
to be in close, sheltered thickets, lying to the sun ; others, the neigh- 
borhood of the sea, where the air is supposed to be more temperate, 
and where the matters thrown up by the waves furnish him with a 
constant and plentiful supply of food. Others trace him to the dark 
recesses of hollow trees, and subterraneous caverns, where they sup- 
pose he dozes away the winter, making, like Robinson Crusoe, oc- 
casional reconnoitring excursions from his castle, whenever the weather 
happens to be favorable. But amidst the snows and severities of win- 
ter, I have sought for him in vain in the most favorable sheltered sit- 
uations of the Middle States ; and not only in the neighborhood of the 
sea, but on both sides of the mountains.f I have never, indeed, ex- 
plored the depths of caverns in search of him, because I would as 

down, and returning' immediately with the prey in their bill, where it is retained for 
a few minutes, while they repeat their uniform note. The young, as soon as they 
are able to fly, have the same manners with their parents, and at the season when 
these are first on the wing, some extensive commons have appeared almost entirely 
in motion with our common species. — Ed. 

* Synopsis, vol. ii. p. 446—40. 

t I speak of the species here generally. Solitary individuals are found, particu- 
larly among our cedar-trees, sometimes in the very depth of winter. 

A # 



42 BLUE-BIRD. 

soon expect to meet with tulips and butterflies there, as Blue-Birds ; 
but, among hundreds of woodmen, who have cut down trees of all 
sorts, and at all seasons, I have never heard one instance of these 
birds being found so immured in winter ; while, in the whole of the 
Middle and Eastern States, the same general observation seems to 
prevail, that the Blue-Bird always makes his appearance in winter 
after a few days of mild and open weather. On the other hand, I 
have myself found them numerous in the woods of North and South 
Carolina, in the depth of winter ; and I have also been assured by 
different gentlemen of respectability, who have resided in the islands 
of Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas and Bermudas, that this very 
bird is common there in winter. We also find, from the works of 
Hernandez, Piso, and others, that it is well known in Mexico, Guiana, 
and Brazil ; and, if so, the place of its winter retreat is easily ascer- 
tained, without having recourse to all the trumpery of holes and 
caverns, torpidity, hybernation, and such ridiculous improbabilities. 

Nothing is more common in Pennsylvania than to see large flocks 
of these birds, in spring and fall, passing at considerable heights in 
the air ; from the south in the former, and from the north in the latter 
season. I have seen, in the month of October, about an hour after 
sunrise, ten or fifteen of them descend from a great height, and settle 
on the top of a tall, detached tree, appearing, from their silence and 
sedateness, to be strangers, and fatigued. After a pause of a few 
minutes, they began to dress and arrange their plumage, and con- 
tinued so employed for ten or fifteen minutes more ; then, on a few 
warning notes being given, perhaps by the leader of the party, the 
whole remounted to a vast height, steering in a direct line for the 
south-west. In passing along the chain of the Bahamas towards the 
West Indies, no great difiiculty can occur, from the frequency of 
these islands ; nor even to the Bermudas, which are said to be six 
hundred miles from the nearest part of the continent. This may 
seem an extraordinary flight for so small a bird ; but it is, neverthe- 
less, a fact that it is performed. If we suppose the Blue-Bird in this 
case to fly only at the rate of a mile per minute, which is less than I 
have actually ascertained him to do over land, ten or eleven hours 
would be sufficient to accomplish the journey ; besides the chances he 
would have of resting-places by the way, from the number of vessels 
that generally navigate those seas. In like manner, two days at most, 
allowing for numerous stages for rest, would conduct him from the 
remotest regions of Mexico to any part of the Atlantic States. 
When the natural history of that part of the continent and its adja- 
cent isles is better known, and the periods at which its birds of pas- 
sage arrive and depart are truly ascertained, I have no doubt but 
these suppositions will be fully corroborated. 



ORCHARD ORIOLE. 43 



ORCHARD ORIOLE. — ORIOLUS MUTATUS.— 
Figs. 11, 12, 13, 14. 

Peaie's Museum, No. 1508. — Bastard Baltimore, Catesby, i. 49. — Le Baltimore 
Batard, De Buffon, iii. "232. PL enl. 506. — Oriolus Spurius, Gmdin, Syst. i. p. 
389.— Z-a^/i. Syn. ii. p. 433, 20, p. 437, 24. — Bartram, p. 290. 

ICTERUS SPC/i2/CrS. — Bonaparte. 

Icterus Spurius, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 5L — The Orchard Oriole, Avd. i. 221, pl.xlii. 

There are no circumstances, relating to birds, which tend so much 
to render their history obscure and perplexing, as the various changes 
of color which many of them undergo. These changes are in some 
cases periodical ; in others progressive ; and are frequently so extra- 
ordinary, that, unless the naturalist has resided for years in the 
country which the birds inhabit, and has examined them at almost 
every season, he is extremely liable to be mistaken and imposed on 
by their novel appearance. Numerous instances of this kind might 
be cited, from the pages of European writers, in which the same bird 
has been described two, three, and even four different times, by the 
same person, and each time as a different kind. The species we are 
now about to examine is a remarkable example of this ; and as it has 
never, to my knowledge, been either accurately figured or described, 
I have devoted one plate to the elucidation of its history. 

The Count de Buffon, in introducing what he supposed to be the 
male of this bird, but which appears evidently to have been the female 
of the Baltimore Oriole, makes the following observations, which I 
give in tJie words of his translator: — "This bird is so called, (Spuri- 
ous Baltimore,) because the colors of its plumage are not so lively as 
in the preceding, [Baltimore O.) In fact, when we compare these 
birds, and find an exact correspondence in every thing except the 
colors, and not even in the distribution of these, but only in the 
different tints they assume, we cannot hesitate to infer that the 
Spurious Baltimore is a variety of a more generous race, degenerated 
by the influence of climate, or some other accidental cause." 

How the influence of climate could affect one portion of a species 
and not the other, when both reside in the same climate, and feed 
nearly on the same food ; or what accidental cause could produce a 
difference so striking, and also so regular, as exists between the two, 
are, I confess, matters beyond my comprehension. But if it be rec- 
ollected that tlie bird which the Count was thus philosophizing upon, 
was nothing more than the female Baltimore Oriole, which exactly 
corresponds to the description of his male Bastard Baltimore, the 
difficulties at once vanish, and witli them the whole superstructure of 
theory founded on this mistake. Dr. Latham, also, while he confesses 
the great confusion and uncertainty that prevail between the True and 
Bastard Baltimore, and their females, considers it highly probable that 
the whole will be found to belong to one and the same species, in 



44 ORCHARD ORIOLE. 

their different changes of color. In this conjecture, however, the 
worthy naturalist has likewise been mistaken ; and I shall endeavor 
to point out the fact, as well as the source of this mistake. 

And here I cannot but take notice of the name which naturalists 
have bestowed on this bird, and which is certainly remarkable. 
Specific names, to be perfect, ought to express some pecuharity, 
common to no other of the genus ; and should, at least, be consistent 
with truth ; but, in the case now before us, the name has no one 
merit of the former, nor even that of the latter to recommend it, and 
ought henceforth to be rejected as highly improper, and calculated, 
like that of Goatsucker^ and many others equally ridiculous, to perpet- 
uate that error from which it originated. The word bastard, among 
men, has its determinate meaning; but when applied to a whole 
species of birds, perfectly distinct from any other, originally deriving 
their peculiarities of form, manners, color, &c., from the common 
source of all created beings, and perpetuating them, by the usual 
laws of generation, as unmixed and independent as any other, is, to 
call it by no worse name, a gross absurdity. Should the reader be 
displeased at this, I beg leave to remind him, that, as the faithful 
historian of our feathered tribes, I must be allowed the liberty of vin- 
dicating them from every misrepresentation whatever, whether origi- 
nating in ignorance or prejudice, and of allotting to each respective 
species, as far as I can distinguish, that rank and place in the great 
order of nature to which it is entitled. 

To convince the foreigner, (for Americans have no doubt on the 
subject,) that the present is a distinct species from the Baltimore, it 
might be sufficient to refer to the representation of the latter, in Fig. 
3, and to Fig. 14, of this work. I will, however, add, that I con- 
clude this bird to be specifically different from the Baltimore, from the 
following circumstances : its size — it is less, and more slender ; its 
colors, which are different, and very differently disposed ; the form of its 
bill, which is sharper pointed, and more bent ; the form of its tail, 
which is not even, but loedged; its notes, which are neither so full 
nor so mellow, and uttered with much more rapidity; its mode of 
building, and the materials it uses, both of which are different; and, 
lastly, the shape and color of the eggs of each, (see Figs, a and 6,*) 
which are evidently unlike. If all these circumstances — and I could 
enumerate a great many more — be not sufficient to designate this as 
a distinct species, by what criterion, I would ask, are we to discrim- 
inate between a variety and an original species, or to assure ourselves, 
that the Great Horned Owl is not, in fact, a Bastard Goose, or the 
Carrion Crow a mere variety of the Humming Bird ? 

These mistakes have been occasioned by several causes ; princi- 
pally by the changes of color to which the birds are subject, and the 
distance of Europeans from the country they inhabit. Catesby, it is 
true, while here, described and figured the Baltimore, and perhaps 
was the first who published figures of either species ; but he entirely 
omitted saying any thing of the female, and, instead of the male and 
female of the present species, as he thought, he has only figured the 
male in two of his different dresses ; and succeeding compilers have 

* Referring to Wilson's original edition. 



ORCHARD ORIOLE. 45 

followed and repeated the same error. Another cause may be as- 
signed, viz. the extreme shyness of the female Orchard Oriole, repre- 
sented at Fior. 11. This bird has hitherto escaped the notice of Euro- 
pean naturalists, or has been mistaken f )r another species, or perhaps 
for a youncf bird of the first season, which it almost exactly resembles. 
In none of the numerous works on ornithology has it ever before ap- 
peared in its proper character ; though the male has been known to 
Europeans for more than a century, and has usually been figured in 
one of his dresses as male, and in another as female ; these varying 
according to the fluctuating opinions of different writers. It is amus- 
ing to see how gentlemen have groped in the dark in pairing these 
two species of Orioles, of 'which the following examples may be 
given: 

Biiffou's and Latham's Bal-( Male. . . . Male Raltimore. 

tiinore Oriole. ( Female. . . Male Orchard Oriole, Fig. 14. 

c ■ T> ,.• c y,. { Male. . . . Female Baltimore. 

Spurious Baltimore of duto. \ ^^^^^^^^ j^j^,^ ^^^,^^^j ^,.^,^^ pj^ j2 

TT, . T> 1.- r-k • 1 S Male. . . . Male Baltimore. 

Pennant s Baltimore Oriole. \ ^^^^^^^^_ _ ^ ^^^^^ Baltimore. 



Catesbv's Baltimore Oriole. 




c, . /-w • 1 r J-. > Male. . . . Male Orcliard Oriole, Fig. 14. 

Spurious Oriole of ditto. \ ^^^^^^^^^_ _ ^j^^^ ,,5,^^^ p; j>,_ 



Male J^altimore. 

Not mentioned. 

„ . o ,.. .,... X .«cu. Male Orchard Oriole, Fig. 12. 

Spurious Baltimore of ditto. I ^^^^^^^^_ _ j^-^^^ ^^ ^. j^^ 



Among all these authors Catesby is doubtless the most inexcusable, 
having lived for several years in America, "where he had an opportunity 
of being more correct: yet, when it is considered, that the female 
of this bird is so much shyer than the male ; that it is seldom seen ; 
and that, while the males are flying around and bewailing an approach 
to their nest, the females keep aloof, watching every movement of the 
enemy in restless but silent anxiety ; it is less to be wondered at, I 
say, tliat two birds of the same kind, but different in plumage, making 
their appearance together at such times, should be taken for male 
and female of the same nest, without doubt or examination, as, from 
that strong sympathy for each other's distress which prevails so uni- 
versally among them at this season, it is difficult sometimes to distin- 
guish between the sufferer and the sympathizing neighbor. 

The female of the Orchard Oriole, Fig. 11, is six inches and a half 
in length, and eleven inches in extent ; the color above is a yellow 
olive, inclining to a brownish tint on the back ; the wings are dusky 
brown, lesser wing-coverts tipped with yellowish white, greater 
coverts and secondaries exteriorly edged Avith the same, primaries 
slightly so ; tail, rounded at the extremity, the two exterior feathers 
three quarters of an inch shorter than the middle ones ; whole lower 
parts, yellow ; bill and legs, light blue ; the fonner bent a li+tle, very 
sharp pointed, and black towards the extremity ; iris of tiie eye, 
hazel ; pupil, black. The young male of the first season corresponds 
nearly with the above description. But in the succeeding spring he 
makes his appearance with a large patch of black marking the front, 
lores, and throat, as represented in Fig. 12. In this stage, too, the 
black sometimes makej its appearance on the two middle feathers 



46 ORCHARD ORIOLE. 

of the tail ; and slight stains of reddish are seen commencing on the 
sides and belly. The rest of the plumage as in the female ; this con- 
tinuing nearly the same, on the same bird, during the remainder of 
the season. At the same time, other individuals are found, as rep- 
resented by Fig. 13, which are at least birds of the third summer. 
These are mottled with black and olive on the upper parts of the 
back, and with reddish bay and yellow on the belly, sides, and vent, 
scattered in the most irregular manner, not alike in any two individ- 
uals ; and, generally, the two middle feathers of the tail are black, 
and the others centred with the same color. This bird is now evi- 
dently approaching to its perfect plumage, as represented in Fig. 14, 
where the black spreads over the whole head, neck, upper part of the 
back, breast, wings, and tail ; the reddish bay, or bright chestnut, 
occupying the lower part of the breast, the belly, vent, rump, tail- 
coverts, and three lower rows of the lesser wing-coverts. The black 
on the head is deep and velvety ; that of the wings inclining to 
brown ; the greater wing-coverts are tipped with white. In the same 
orchard, and at the same time, males in each of these states of plu- 
mage may be found, united to their respective plain-colored mates. 

In all these, the manners, mode of building, food, and notes, are, 
generally speaking, the same, differing no more than those of any 
other individuals belonging to one common species. The female 
appears always nearly the same. 

I have said that these birds construct their nests very differently 
from the Baltimores. They are so particularly fond of frequenting 
orchards, that scarcely one orchard in summer is without them. 
They usually suspend their nest from the twigs of the apple-tree ; 
and often from the extremities of the outward branches. It is formed 
exteriorly of a particular species of long, tough, and flexible grass, 
knit, or sewed through and through in a thousand directions, as if 
actually done with a needle. An old lady of my acquaintance, to 
whom I was one day showing this curious fabrication, after admiring 
its texture for some time, asked me, in a tone between joke and 
earnest, whether I did not think it possible to learn these birds to darn 
stockings. This nest is hemispherical, three inches deep by four in 
breadth ; the concavity scarcely two inches deep by two in diameter. 
I had the curiosity to detach one of the fibres, or stalks of dried grass, 
from the nest, and found it to measure thirteen inches in length, and 
in that distance was thirty-four times hooked through and returned, 
winding round and round the nest ! The inside is usually composed 
of wool, or the light, downy appendages attached to the seeds of the 
Platanus occidentalism or button-wood, which form a very soft and 
commodious bed Here and there the outward work is extended to 
an adjoining twig, round which it is strongly twisted, to give more 
stability to the whole, and prevent it from being overset by the wind. 

When they choose the long, pendent branches of the weeping 
willow to build in, as they frequently do, the nest, though formed of 
the same materials, is made much deeper, and of slighter texture. 
The circumference is marked out by a number of these pensile twigs 
that descend on each side like ribs, supporting the whole ; their thick 
foliage, at the same time, completely concealing the nest from view. 
The depth in this case is increased to four or five inches, and the 



ORCHARD ORIOLE. 47 

whole is made much slighter. These long, pendent branches, being 
sometimes twelve and even fifteen feet in length, have a large sweep 
in the wind, and render the first of these precautions necessary, 
to prevent the eggs or young from being thrown out ; and the close 
shelter afforded by the remarkable thickness of the foliage is, no 
doubt, the cause of the latter. Two of these nests, such as I have 
here described, are now lying before me, and exhibit not only art in 
tlie construction, but judgment in adapting their fabrication so judi- 
ciously to their particular situations. If the actions of birds pro- 
ceeded, as some would have us believe, from the mere impulses of 
that thing called instinct, individuals of the same species would 
uniformly build their nest in the same manner, wherever they might 
happen to fix it ; but it is evident from those just mentioned, and a 
thousand such circumstances, that tliey reason a priori, from cause to 
consequence ; providently managing with a constant eye to future 
necessity and convenience. 

The eggs, one of which is represented on the same plate, (Fig. a,) 
are usually four, of a very pale bluish tint, with a few small specks 
of brown, and spots of dark purple. An egg of the Baltimore Oriole 
is exhibited beside it, (Fig. b ; *) both of these were minutely copied 
from nature, and are sufficient of themselves to determine, beyond all 
possibility of doubt, the identity of the two species. I may add, that 
IMr. Charles W. Peale, proprietor of the museum in Philadelphia, 
who, as a practical naturalist, stands deser\^edly first in tlie first rank 
of American connoisseurs, and who has done more for the promotion of 
that sublime science than all our speculative theorists together, has 
expressed to me his perfect conviction of the changes which these 
birds pass through; having himself examined them both in spring 
and towards the latter part of summer, and having at the present 
time in his possession thirty or forty individuals of this species, in 
almost every gradation of change. 

The Orchard Oriole, though partly a dependant on the industry of 
the farmer, is no sneaking pilferer, but an open and truly beneficent 
friend. To all those countless multitudes of destructive bugs and 
caterpillars that infest the fruit-trees in spring and summer, preying 
on the leaves, blossoms, and embryo of the fruit, he is a deadly ene- 
my ; devouring them wherever he can find them, and destroying, on 
an average, some hundreds of them every day, without offering the 
slightest injury to the fruit, however much it may stand in his way. 
I have witnessed instances where the entrance to his nest was more 
than half closed up by a cluster of apples, which he could have easily 
demolished in half a minute ; but, as if holding the property of his 
patron sacred, or considering it as a natural bulwark to his own, 
he slid out and in with the greatest gentleness and caution. I am 
not sufficiently conversant in entomology to particularize the different 
species of insects on which he feeds, but I have good reason for be- 
lieving that they are almost altogether such as commit the greatest 
depredations on the fruits of the orchard ; and, as he visits us at a 
time when his services are of the greatest value, and, like a faithful 
guardian, takes up his station where the enemy is most to be expected, 

* The references here are to Wilson's orig^inal edition. 



48 ORCHARD ORIOLE. 

he ought to be held in respectful esteem, and protected by every con- 
siderate husbandman. Nor is the gayety of his song one of his least 
recommendations. Being an exceedingly active, sprightly, and rest- 
less bird, he is on the ground — on the trees — flying and carolling in 
his hurried manner, in almost one and the same instant. His notes 
are shrill and lively, but uttered with such rapidity and seeming con- 
fusion, that the ear is unable to follow them distinctly. Between 
these, he has a single note, which is agi-eeable and interesting. 
Wherever he is protected, he shows his confidence and gratitude by 
his numbers and familiarity. In the botanic gardens of my worthy 
and scientific friends, the Messrs. Bartrams of Kingsess, which present 
an epitome of almost every thing that is rare, useful, and beautiful in 
the vegetable kingdom of this western continent, and where the 
murderous gun scarce ever intrudes, the Orchard Oriole revels with- 
out restraint through thickets of aromatic flowers and blossoms, and, 
heedless of the busy gardener that labors below, hangs his nest, in 
perfect security, on the branches over his head. 

The female sits fourteen days ; the young remain in the nest ten 
days afterwards, before they venture abroad, which is generally about 
the middle of June. Nests of this species, with eggs, are sometimes 
found so late as the 20th of July, Avhich must either belong to birds 
that have lost their first nest, or, it is probable that many of them 
raise two broods in the same season, though I am not positive of the 
fact 

The Orcliard Orioles arrive in Pennsylvania rather later than the 
Baltimores, commonly about the first week in May, and extend as far 
a.s the Province of Maine. They are also more numerous towards the 
mountains than the latter species. In traversing the country near the 
Blue Ridge, in the month of August, I have seen at least five of this 
species for one of the Baltimore. Early in September, they take 
their departure for the south ; their term of residence here being 
little more than four months. Previous to their departure, the young 
birds become gregarious, and frequent the rich extensive meadows of 
the Schuylkill, below Philadelphia, in flocks of from thirty to forty, or 
upwards. They are easily raised from the nest, and soon become 
agreeable domestics. One which I reared and kept through the 
winter, whistled with great clearness and vivacity at two months old. 
It had an odd manner of moving its head and neck, slowly and regu- 
larly, and in various directions, when intent on observing any thing, 
without stirring its body. This motion was as slow and regular as 
tliat of a snake. When at night a candle was brought into the room, 
it became restless, and evidently dissatisfied, flutterinor about the 
cage, as if seeking to get out ; but, when the cage was placed on the 
same table with the candle, it seemed extremely well pleased, fed 
and drank, dressed, shook and arranged its plumage, sat as close to the 
light aw possible, and sometimes chanted a few broken, irregular notes 
in that situation, as I sat writing or reading beside it. I also kept a 
young fiMualc of the same nest, during the greatest part of winter, 
but could not observe, in that time, any change in its plumage.* 



This l)ir<l is iiitorostin<r, as showing the remarkable change of color which takes 
c III tlie {jrouj), and winch, ui many instances, has been the occasion of a muJ- 



GREAT AMERICAN SHRIKE, OR BUTCHER BIRD. 49 



GREAT AMERICAN SHRIKE, OR BUTCHER BIRD. 
LANIUS EXCUBITOR.* — Fig. 15. 

La pie grischc-j^rise, De Buffon, i. 296. PL enl. 445. — PeaJe's Museum, No. 
664. — White ^Vhisky John, Phil. Tram. Ixii. 386.— Arct. Zool. ii. No. 127. 

LAJsrWS BOREALIS. — Vieillot. 

Lauius boreaHs, Vieill. — North. ZooL ii. 3.. 

The form and countenance of this bird bespeak him full of courage 
and energy ; and his true character does not belie his appearance, tor 
ha possesses these qualities in a very eminent degree. He is repre- 
sented on the plate rather less than Ms true size,f but in just propor- 
tion, and with a fidelity that will enable tlie European naturalist to 
determine, whether this be really the same with the great cinereous 
Shrike [Lanius ercubitor, Linn.) of the eastern continent, or not ; 
though tlie progressive variableness of the plumage, passing, accord- 
ing to age, and sometimes to climate, from ferruginous to pale ash, 
and even to a bluish white^ renders it impossible tliat this should be 
an exact representation of every individual. 

This species is by no means numerous in the lower parts of Penn- 
sylvania ; though most so during the montlis of November, December, 
and March. Soon after this, it retires to the north, and to the higher 
inland parts of the country to breed. It frequents the deepest forests ; 
builds a large and compact nest in the upright fork of a small tree ; 
composed outwardly of dry grass, and wliitish moss, and warmly lined 
within with feathers. The female lays six eggs, of a pale cinereous 
color, thickly marked at the greater end with spots and streaks of 
rufous. She sits fifteen days. The young are produced early in 
June, sometimes towards the latter end of May; and during the 
greater part of the first season are of a brown ferruginous color on 
the back. 

When we compare the beak of this species with his legs and claws, 

liplicalion of species. It will rank with the Baltimore Bird in the Icterus of Brisson, 
and they will form the only individuals belonging to the northern continent of 
America. According- to Audubon, the flesh of the Orchard Oriole is esteemed by 
the Creoles of Louisiana, and at the season when the broods have collected, and 
feed most upon insects in the moist meadows, they are procured for the table in 
considerable abundance. — Ed. 

* Wilson has marked this species with a note of doubt, showing- the accuracy of 
his observation where he had such slender means of making- out species ; a mistake 
also into which C. L. Bonaparte, with greater opportunities, has also fallen. Vieil- 
lot seems to have been the first to distinguish it, and Mr. Swainson has satisfactorily 
pointed out the differences, in the Northern Zoology. Lanius excuhitor is not 
found at all in America, and this species seems to fillup its want ; the chief difTer- 
ences are in the size, Lanius horealis being larger. Tlic female is of a browner 
shade, with more gray underneath ; tiie former a distribution of color in the females 
unknown among those bearing similar shades ; in habits they in every way agree. 

t In W Ison's original edition. 
5 



50 GREAT AMERICAN SHRIKE, OR BUTCHER BIRD. 

they appear to belong to two very different orders of birds ; the former 
approaching, in its conformation, to that of the Accipitrine ; the latter 
to those of the Pies ; and, indeed, in his food and manners he is as- 
similated to both. For though man has arranged and subdivided this 
numerous class of animals into separate tribes and families, yet nature 
has united these to each other by such nice gradations, and so inti- 
mately, that it is hardly possible to determine where one tribe ends, 
or the 'succeeding commences. We tlierefore find several eminent 
naturalists classing this genus of birds with the Accipitrine, others 
with the Pies. Like the former, he preys occasionally on other birds ; 
and, like the latter, on insects, particularly grasshoppers, which I 
believe to be his principal food ; having at almost all times, even in 
winter, found them in his stomach. In the month of December, and 
while the country was deeply covered with snow, I shot one of these 
birds near the head waters of the Mohawk River, in the state of 
New York, the stomach of which was entirely filled with large black 
spiders. He was of a much purer white above, than any I have since 
met with ; though evidently of the same species with the present ; 
and I think it probable that the males become lighter colored as they 
advance in age, till the minute transverse lines of brown on the lower 
parts almost disappear. 

In his manners he has more resemblance to the Pies than to birds 
of proy, particularly in the habit of carrying off his surplus food, as 
if to hoard it for future exigencies ; with this difference, that Crows, 
Jays, Magpies, &c., conceal theirs at random, in holes and crevices, 
where, perhaps, it is forgotten, or never again found; while the 
Butcher Bird sticks his on thorns and bushes, where it shrivels in the 
sun, and soon becomes equally useless to the hoarder. Both retain 
the same habits in a state of confinement, whatever the food may be 
that is presented to them. 

This habit of the Shrike, of seizing and impaling grasshoppers and 
other insects on thorns, has given rise to an opinion that he places 
their carcasses there by way of baits, to allure small birds to them, 
while he himself lies in ambush to surprise and destroy them. In 
this, however, they appear to allow him a greater portion of reason 
and contrivance tlian he seems entitled to, or than other circumstances 
will altogether warrant ; for we find, that he not only serves grass- 
hoppers in this manner, but even small birds themselves, as those 
have assured me who have kept them in cages in this country, and 
amused themselves with their manoeuvres. If so, we might as well 
suppose the farmer to be inviting Crows to his corn when he hangs 
up tlieir carcasses around it, as the Butcher Bird to be decoying small 
birds by a display of the dead bodies of their comrades ! 

In the Transactions of the Jimencan Philosophical Society, vol. iv. p. 
124, tiie reader may find a long letter on this subject from Mr. John 
Hockewcldcr, of Bethlehem, to Dr. Barton ; the substance of which 
is JUS follows: — That on the 17th of December, 1795, he (Mr. Hecke- 
wclder) went to visit a young orchard which had been planted a few 
weeks before, and was surprised to observe on every one of the trees 
one, and on some two and three grasshoppers, stuck down on the sharp, 
thorny branches ; that, on incjuiring of his tenant the reason of this, 
lie informed him, that they were stuck there by a small bird of prey, 



GREAT AMERICAN SHRIKE, OR iiUTCHER BIRD. 31 

called by the Germans, JVeuntoedler, (Nine-killer,) which caug-lit and 
stuck nine grasshoppers a day ; and he supposed that, as the bird it- 
self never fed on g-rasshoppers, it must do it for pleasure. Mr. liecl:- 
ewelder now recollected, that one of those Nine-killers had, many 
years before, taken a favorite bird of his out of his cage at the window ; 
since which, he had paid particular attention to it ; and being perfectly 
satisfied that it lived entirely on mice and small birds, and, moreover, 
observing the grasshoppers on the trees all fixed in natural positions, 
as if alive, he began to conjecture that this was done to decoy such 
small birds as feed on tliese insects to the spot, that he might have an 
opportunity of devouring them. " If it were true," says lie, " that 
this little liawk had stuck them up for himself, how long would he be 
in feeding on one or two hundred grasshoppers ? But if it be in- 
tended to seduce the smaller birds to feed on tliese insects, in order 
to have an opportunity of catching them, that number, or even one 
half, or less, may be a good bait all winter," &c. 

This is, indeed, a very pretty, fanciful theory, and would entitle our 
bird to the epithet fowler, perhaps with more propriety than lanius, vr 
butcher; but, notwithstanding the attention which Mr. Heckewelder 
professes to have paid to this bird, he appears not only to have been 
ignorant that grasshoppers were, in fact, the favorite food of this 
Nine-killer, but never once to have considered, that grasshoppers 
would be but a very insignificant and tasteless bait for our winter 
birds, which are chiefly those of the Finch kind, that feed almost ex- 
clusively on hard seeds and gravel; and among whom five hundred 
grasshoppers might be stuck up on trees and bushes, and remain there 
untouched by any of them forever. Besides, where is his necessity 
of having recourse to such refined stratagems, when he can, at any 
time, seize upon small birds by mere force of flight? I have seen 
him, in an open field, dart after one of our small Sparrows with the 
rapidity of an arrow, and kill it almost instantly. Mr. William Bar- 
tram long ago informed me, that one of these Shrikes had the temerity 
to pursue a Snow Bird [F. Hudsonia) into an open cage, which stood 
in the garden ; and, before they could arrive to its assistance, had 
already strangled and scalped it, though he lost his liberty by the ex- 
ploit. In short, I am of opinion, that his resolution and activity are 
amply sufficient to enable him to procure these small birds whenevei 
he wants them, which, I believe, is never but when hard pressed by 
necessity, and a deficiency of his favorite insects ; and that the Crow 
or the Blue Jay may, with the same probability, be supposed to be 
laying baits for mice and flying squirrels, when they are hoarding 
their Indian corn, as he for birds, while thus disposing of the exuber- 
ance of his favorite food. Both the former and the latter retain the 
same habits in a state of confinement ; the one filling every seam and 
chink of his cage with grain, crumbs of bread, &c., and the other 
sticking up, not only insects, but flesh, and the bodies of such birds 
as are thrown in to him, on nails or sharpened sticks fixed up for the 
purpose. Nor, say others, is this practice of the Shrike diflicult to be 
accounted for. Nature has given to this bird a strong, sharp, and 
powerful beak, a broad head, and great strength in the muscles of his 
neck ; but his legs, feet, and claws are by no means proportionably 



52 GREAT AMERICAN SHRIKE, OR BUTCHER BIRD. 

strong, and are unequal to the task of grasping and teanng his prey, 
lOie those of the Owl and Falcon kind. He, therefore, wisely avails 
himself of the powers of the f jrmer, both in strangling his prey, and 
m tearing it to pieces while feeding. 

The character of the Butcher Bird is entitled to no common degree 
of respect. His activity is visible in all his motions ; his courage and 
intrepidity beyond every otlier bird of his size, (one of his own tribe 
only excepted, L. tyrannus, or King Bird ;) and in affection for his 
young, he is surpassed by no other. He associates with them in the 
latter part of summer, the whole family hunting in company. He 
attacks the largest Hawk or Eagle in their defence, with a resolution 
truly astonishing ; so that all of tliem respect him, and, on every 
occasion, decline the contest As the snows of winter approach, he 
descends from the mountainous forests, and from the regions of the 
north, to the more cultivated parts of the country, hovering about our 
hedge-rows, orchards, and meadows, and disappears again early in 
April. 

The Great American Shrike is ten inches in length, and thirteen 
in extent ; the upper part of the head, neck, and back, is pale cinere- 
ous ; sides of the head, nearly white, crossed witli a bar of black tliat 
passes from the nostril, through the eye, to the middle of the neck ; 
the whole under parts, in some specimens, are nearly white, in others 
more dusky, and thickly marked with minute transverse curving lines 
of light brown; the wings are black, tipped with white, with a single 
spot of white on tlie primaries, just below their coverts ; tlie scapulars, 
or long downy feathers that fall over the upper part of the wing, are 
pure white ; the rump and tail-coverts, a very fine gray or light ash ; 
the tail is cuneifomi, consisting of twelve feathers, the two middle 
ones wholly black, the others tipped more and more with white to the 
exterior ones, w^hich are nearly all white ; the legs, feet, and claws 
are black ; the beak straight, thick, of a light blue color ; the upper 
mandible furnished with a sharp process, bending down greatly at the 
point, where it is black, and beset at the base with a number of long 
black hairs or bristles ; the nostrils are also thickly covered witJi 
recumbent hairs ; the iris of the eye is a light hazel ; pupil, black. 
Fig. 15 will give a perfect idea of the bird. The female is easily 
distinguished by being ferruginous on the back and head, and having 
the band of black extending only behind the eye, and of a dirty 
brown or burnt color ; the under parts are also something rufous, and 
the curving lines more strongly marked ; she is rather less than the 
male, which is different from birds of prey in general, the females of 
which are usually the larger of the two. 

In the ^^rdic Zoology, we are told that this species is frequent in 
llussia, but does not extend to Siberia ; yet one was taken within 
Behring's Straits, on the Asiatic side, in lat. 66° ; and the species 
probably extends over the whole continent of North America, from 
tiie Western Ocean. Mr. Bell, while on his travels through Russia, 
had one of these birds given him, which he kept in a room, having 
tLxed up a sharpened stick for him in the wall ; and on turning small 
birds loose in the room, the Butciier Bird instantly caught them by 
tlie throat in such a manner as soon to suffocate them ; and then 



PINE GROSBEAK. 53 

stuck them on the stick, pulling them on with bill and claws ; and so 
served as many as were turned loose, one after another, on the same 
sticL* 



PINE GROSBEAK. — LOXIA ENUCLEATOR. — Fig. 16. 

Loxia enucleator, Linn. Sijst. i. p. 299, 3. — Le dur bee, ou gros bee de Canada, 
Buffon, iii. p. 457. PL ml. 135, 1. — Edw. 123, 124. — Lath. Syn. iii. p. Ill, 5. 
— Peak's Museum, No. 5652. 

CORYTHUS EJ^UCLEATOR. — Cvviz^] 

Loxia enucleator, Penn. Arct. Zool. ii. p. 348. — Corythus enucleator, Ctiv. Regn. 
Anim. i. p. 391. — Fleem. Br. Zool. p. 76. — Bouvreuil dur bee, Pyrrhula enu- 
cleator, Temnu i. 333. — Pine Grosbeak, Pyrrhula enucleator, Selbij, Orn. lU. i. 
256, pi. 53. — Pyrrhula enucleator, Bonap. Syn. 114. 

This is perhaps one of the gayest plumaged land birds that fre- 
quent the inhospitable regions of the north, whence they are driven, 
as if with reluctance, by the rigors of winter, to visit Canada and 
some of the Northern and Middle States ; returning to Hudson's Bay 
so early as April. The specimen from which our drawing was taken 
was shot on a cedar-tree, a few miles to the north of Philadelphia, in 
the month of December ; and a faitliful resemblance of the original, 
as it then appeared, is exhibited in Fig. 16. A few days afterwards, 
another bird of the same species was killed not far from Gray's Ferry, 

* Edwards, vii. 231. 

t This interesting species seems nowhere of common occurrence ; it is very 
seldom seen in collections 5 and boxes of skins, either from different parts of Europe, 
or America, can seldom rank the Pine Grosbeak among their number 5 the testimony 
of all travellers in America, who have attended to nature, correspond in their ac- 
counts 5 and one of the latest, IMr. Audubon, has mentioned it to me as of extreme 
scarcity. In this country, they seem to be of equal rarity, though they are gener- 
ally placed in our list of British birds without any remark. Pennant observes, 
{Arct. Zool. ii. 3+8,) that he has seen them in the forests of Invercauld ; and Mr. 
Selby says, (Br. Orn. 257,) that, from the testimony of the gamekeepers, whom he 
had an opportunity of speaking with in the Highlands, they may be ranked only as 
occasional visitants. I am aware, however, of no instance of their being killed in 
this country. Pennant infers, from those which he saw in the month of August, 
tliat they breed here. " Such a conclusion," Mr. Selby justly remarks, " ought 
scarcely to be inferred from this fact, as a sufficient interval of time had elapsed 
for these individuals to have emigrated from Norwa}', or other northern countries, 
to Scotland, after incubation, as they are known to breed as early as May in their 
natural haunts." I have been unable to find any trace whatever of their ever 
breeding in this country ; most of the migrating species breed very early, and those 
that change their station for the sake of finding a breeding place, commence the 
office of building. &c. immediately on their arrival, a necessary circumstance to 
enable the young to perform their migration before the change of season. Cuvier 
has formed his genus Corythus of this individual, which still remains the only one 
that has yet been placed in it ; but I am of opinion, that the Crimson-necked Bullliiich 
[Pyrrhula frontalis, Say) should stand very near, or with it. Their alliance to the 
true Bullfinches is very great, and 3Ir. Swainson's genus, Crithagra, may form 
another near ally. — Ed. 
5* 



54 PINE GROSBEAK. 

four miles south from Philadelphia, which proved to be a female. In 
this part of the state of Pennsylvania, they are rare birds, and seldom 
seen. As they do not, to my knowledge, breed in any part of this 
state, I am unable, from personal observation, to speak of their man- 
ners or musical talents. Mr. Pennant says, they sing on their first 
arrival in the country round Hudson's Bay, but soon become silent ; 
make their nest on trees, at a small height from the ground, with 
sticks, and line it with feathers. The female lays four white eggs, 
which are hatched in June. Forster observes, that they visit Hudson's 
Bay only in May, on tlieir way to the north ; and are not observed to 
return in the autumn ; and that their food consists of birchwillow 
buds, and others of the same nature.* 

The Pine Grosbeak measures riine inches in length, and fourteen 
inches in extent ; the head, neck, breast, and rump, are of a rich 
crimson, palest on the breast ; the feathers on the middle of the back 
are centred with arrow-shaped spots of black, and skirted with crim- 
son, which gives the plumage a considerable flush of red there ; those 
on the shoulders are of a deep slate color, partially skirted with red, 
and light ash. The greater wing-coverts and next superior row are 
broadly tipped with white, and slightly tinged with reddish : wings 
and tail, black, edged with light brown ; tail, considerably forked ; 
lower part of the belly, ash color ; vent-feathers, skirted with white, 
and streaked with black ; legs, glossy black ; bill, a brownish horn 
color, veiy thick, short, and hooked at the point ; the upper mandible 
overhanging the lower considerably, approaching in its form to that 
of the Parrot ; base of the bill, covered with recumbent hairs of a 
dark broAvn color. The whole plumage, near the roots, as in most 
other birds, is of a deep bluish ash color. The female was half an 
inch shorter, and answered nearly to the above description ; only, 
those parts that in the male were crimson, were in her of a dirty 
yellowish color. The female, according to Forster, referred to above, 
has those parts which in the male are red, more of an orange tint ; 
and he censures Edwards for having represented the female of too 
bright a red. It is possible, that my speeunen of the female might 
have been a bird of the first season, not come to its full colors. Those 
figured by Mr. Edwards f were both brought from Hudson's Bay, and 
appear to be the same with the one now before us, though his coloring 
of the female differs materially from his description. 

If this, as Mr. Pennant asserts, be the same species with that of 
the eastern continent, it would seem to inhabit almost the whole 
extent of the arctic regions. It is found in the north of Scotland, 
where Pennant suspects it breeds. It inhabits Europe as far north as 
Drontheim ; is common in all the pine forests of Asia, in Siberia, 
and the north of Russia; is taken in autumn about Petersburg, and 
brought to market in great numbers. It returns to Lapland in spring ; 
is found in Newfoundland, and on the western coast of North 
America.| 

Were I to reason from analogy, I would say, that, from the great 
resemblance of this bird to tlie Purple Finch, {Fringilla purpurea,) it 
does not attain its full plumage until the second summer ; and is 

* Philosophical Transactions, Ixii. 402. f Edw. iii, 124. ^ Pennant. 



RUBY-CROWNED WREN. 55 

subject to considerable change of color in moulting, which may 
have occasioned all the differences we find concerning it in dif- 
ferent authors. But this is actually ascertained to be the case; 
for Mr. Edwards saw two of these birds alive in London, in cages ; 
tlie person in whose custody they were, said they came from 
Norway ; that they had moulted their feathers, and were not after- 
wards so beautiful as they were at first. One of them, he says, was 
colored very much like the Green Finch, [L. chloris.) The Purple 
Finch, though much smaller, has tlie rump, head, back, and breast, 
nearly of the same color as the Pine Grosbeak, feeds in the same 
manner, on the same food, and is also subject to like changes of 
color. 

Since -writing the above, I have kept one of these Pine Grosbeaks, 
a male, for more than half a year. In the month of August those 
parts of the plumage which were red became of a greenish yellow, 
and continue so still. In May and June its song, though not so loud 
as some birds of its size, was extremely clear, mellow, and sweet. It 
would warble out this for a whole morning together, and acquired 
several of the notes of a Red-Bird [Lt. cardinalis) that hung near it. 
It is exceedingly tame and familiar, and when it wants food or water, 
utters a continual melancholy and anxious note. It was caught in 
winter near the North River, thirty or forty miles above New York. 



RUBY-CROWNED WREN. — SYLVIA CALENDULA. — Fig. 17. 

Le Roitelet rubis, De Buff. v. 373. — Edw. 254. — Lath. Syn. ii. 5n. — Arct. Zool 
320. — Regtilus cristatus alter vertice rubini coloris, Bartram, p. 292. — Peale^s 
Museum, No. 7244. 

REOULUS C^LEJVDULUS.—STEPHEfis.* 

Regius calendulas, Steph. Cont. Sh. Zool. vol. x. p. 760. — Bonap. Synop. 91. 

This little bird visits us early in the spring, from the south, and is 
generally first found among the maple blossoms, about the beginning 
of April. These failing, it has recourse to those of the peach, apple, 
and other fruit-trees, partly for the tops of the sweet and slender 
stamina of the flowers, and partly for the winged insects that hover 
among them. In the middle of summer, I have rarely met with these 
birds in Pennsylvania ; and as they penetrate as far north as the 
country round Hudson's Bay, and also breed there, it accounts for 
their late arrival here, in fall. They then associate with the different 
species of Titmouse, and the Golden-crested Wren ; and are particu- 
larly numerous in the month of October, and beginning of November, 
in orchards, among the decaying leaves of the apple-trees, that at 

* See note to Rezulus cristatus. 



56 RUBY-CROWNED WREN. 

that season are infested with great numbers of small, black- winged 
insects, among which they make great havock. I have often regretted 
the painful necessity one is under of taking away the lives of such 
inoffensive, useful little creatures, merely to obtain a more perfect 
knowledge of the species ; for they appear so busy, so active, and 
unsuspecting, as to continue searching about the same twig, even 
after their companions have been shot down beside them. They are 
more remarkably so in autumn, which may be owing to the great 
number of young and inexperienced birds which are then among 
them ; and frequently, at this season, I have stood under the tree, mo- 
tionless, to observe them, while they gleaned among the low branches 
sometimes within a foot or two of my head. They are extremely 
adroit in catching their prey ; have only at times a feeble chirp ; visit 
the tops of the tallest trees, as well as the lowest bushes ; and con- 
tinue generally for a considerable time among the branches of the 
same tree, darting about from place to place ; appearing, when on the 
top of a high maple, no bigger than humble-bees. 

The Ruby-crowned Wren is four inches long, and six in extent; 
the upper parts of the head, neck, and back, are of a fine greenish 
olive, with a considerable tinge of yellow ; wings and tail, dusky 
puri)]ish brown, exteriorly edged with yellow olive ; secondaries, and 
foot row of wing-coverts, edged and tipped with white, with a spot 
of deep purplish brown across the secondaries, just below their 
coverts ; the hind head is ornamented v^^ith an oblong lateral spot of 
vermilion, usually almost hid by the other plumage ; round the eye, a 
rinjT of yellowish v^^hite ; whole under parts, of the same tint ; legs, 
dark brown; feet and claw^s, yellow; bill, slender, straight, not 
notched, furnished with a few black hairs ^t the base ; inside of the 
mouth, orange. The female differs very little in its plumage from the 
male, the colors being less lively, and the bird somewhat less. Not- 
witlistanding my utmost endeavors,! have never been able to discover 
their nest; though, from the circumstance of having found them 
sometimes here in summer, I am persuaded that they occasionally 
breed in Pennsylvania ; but I know several birds, no larger than this, 
that usually build on the extremities of the tallest trees in the woods ; 
which I have discovered from their beginning before the leaves are 
out; many others, no doubt, choose similar situations; and should 
they delay building until the woods are thickened with leaves, it is no 
easy matter to discover them. In fall, they are so extremely fat, as 
almost to dissolve between the fingers as you open them ; owing to 
the great abundance of their favorite insects at that time. 



SHORE-LARK. 57 



SHORE-LARK. — ALAUD A ALPESTRIS. — Fig. 18. 

Alauda alpestris, Linn. Syst. 289. — Lath. Synop. ii. 385. — Peale's Museum, No. 
5190. — Alauda campestris, gutture flavo, Bartram, p. 290. — L'Alouette de 
Virginia, De Buff. v. 65. — Catesb. i. 32. 

ALAUDA ALPESTRIS. — Link jEVs. 

Alauda alpestris alouette a Hause col noir, Temm. i. 279. — Bonap. Synop. 102. 
— Vieill. Gal. des Ois. pi. 155, p. 256. — Alauda cornuta, Sivain. Synop. — 
Birds of Mexico, Phil. Mag. ^ Ann. 1827, p. 434. — North. Zool. ii. p. 245. 

This is the most beautiful of its genus, at least in this part of the 
world. It is one of our winter birds of passage, arriving from the 
north in the fall ; usually staying with us the whole winter, frequent- 
ing' sandy plains and open downs, and is numerous in the Southern 
States, as far as Georgia, during that season. They fly high, in loose, 
scattered flocks ; and at these times have a single cry, almost exactly 
like the Sky-Lark of Britain. They are very numerous in many 
tracts of New Jersey, and are frequently brought to Philadelphia 
market. They are then generally very fat, and are considered excel- 
lent eating. Their food seems principally to consist of small, round, 
compressed, black seeds, buckwheat, oats, &c., with a large proportion 
of gravel. On the flat commons, within the boundaries of the city 
of Philadelphia, flocks of them are regularly seen during the whole 
winter. In the stomach of these I have found, in numerous instances, 
quantities of the eggs or larvas of certain insects, mixed with a kind 
of slimy earth. About the middle of March they generally disappear, 
on their route to the north.* Forster informs us that they visit the 
environs of Albany Fort in the beginning of May, but go farther 
north to breed ; that they feed on grass seeds and buds of the sprig 
birch, and run into small holes, keeping close to the ground, from 
whence the natives call them Chi-chup-pi-su€.\ This same species 
appears also to be found in Poland, Russia, and Siberia, in winter, 
from whence they also retire farther north on the approach of spring; 
except in the north-east parts, and near the high mountains.| 

The length of this bird is seven inches, the extent twelve inches ; 
the forehead, throat, sides of the neck, and line over the eye, are of a 
delicate straw, or Naples yellow, elegantly relieved by a bar of black, 

"^ In winter, says Pennant, they retire to the southern provinces in great flights ; 
but it is only by severe weather that they reach Virginia and Carolina. They fre- 
quent sand hills on the sea shore, and feed on the sea-side oats, or Uniola paniculata. 
They have a single note, like the Sky-Lark in winter. — Temminck mentions them 
as birds of passage in Germany, and that they breed also in Asia. One or two 
specimens have lately been killed in England, so that their geographic range is 
pretty considerable. The Alauda calandra of Linnaeus is introduced into the 
Northern Zoology, as an inhabitant of the Fur countries, on the authority of a 
specimen in the British Museum, and will stand as the second Lark found in that 
country. — Ed. 

t Philosophical Transactions, vol. Ixii. p. 398, 

i; Arctic Zoology. 



58 SHORE-LARK. 

that passes from the nostril to the eye, below which it falls, rounding, 
*o the depth of three quarters of an inch ; the yellow on the forehead 
and over the eye, is bounded within, for its whole length, with black, 
which covers part of the crown ; the breast is ornamented with a broad, 
fan-shaped patch of black ; this, as well as all the other spots of black, 
are marked with minute curves of yellow points ; back of the neck, 
and towards the shoulders, a light drab, tinged with lake ; lesser wing- 
coverts, bright cinnamon ; greater wing-coverts, the same, interiorly 
dusky, and tipped with whitish ; back and wings, drab colored, tinged 
with reddish, each feather of the former having a streak of dusky black 
down its centre ; primaries, deep dusky, tipped and edged with whitish ; 
exterior feathers, most so ; secondaries, broadly edged with light drab, 
and scolloped at the tips ; tail, forked, black ; the two middle feathers, 
which by some have been mistaken for the coverts, are reddish drab, 
centred with brownish black ; the two outer ones on each side, exte- 
riorly edged with white ; breast, of a dusky vinous tinge, and marked 
with spots or streaks of the same ; the belly and vent, white ; sides, 
streaked with bay ; bill short, ( Latham, in mistake, says seven 
inches,*) of a dusky blue color; tongue, truncate and bifid; legs 
and claws, black ; hind heel, very long, and almost straight ; iris of 
the eye, hazel. One glance at Fig. 18 wUl give a better idea than 
the whole of this minute description, which, however, has been 
rendered necessary by the errors of others. The female has little or 
no black on the crown ; and the yellow on the front is narrow, and of 
a dirty tinge. 

There is a singular appearance in this bird, which I have never seen 
taken notice of by former writers, viz., certain long, black feathers, 
which extend, by equal distances beyond each other, above the eye- 
brow ; these are longer, more pointed, and of a different texture from 
the rest around them ; and the bird possesses the power of erecting 
them, so as to appear as if horned, like some of the Owl tribe. Having 
kept one of these birds alive for some time, I was much amused at 
this odd appearance, and think it might furnish a very suitable spe- 
cific appellation, viz. Alauda cornuta, or Horned Lark. These horns 
become scarcely perceivable after the bird is dead. The head ia 
shghtly crested. 

Shore-Lark and Sky-Lark are names by which this species is usually 
known in different parts of the Union. They are said to sing well, 
mounting in the air, in the manner of the Song-Lark of Europe ; but 
this is only in those countries where they breed. I have never 
heard of their nests being found within the territory of the United 
States. 

* Synopsis, vol. ii. p. 385. 



MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT. 59 



MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT. — SYLVIA 
MARILANDICA. — Fig. 19. 

Turdus trichas, Linn. Syst. i. ^93. — Edw. 237. — Yellow-breasted Warbler, Arct. 
Zool. ii. No. 283. Id. 28-i. — Le Figiiier aux joues noires, De Buff. v. 292. — La 
Fauvette a poitrine jaune de la Louisiane, Buff. v. 1G2. PL enl. 709, fig. 2. — 
Lath. Syn. iv. 433, 3± — Peale's Museum, No. G902. 

TRICHUS PERSOJSTjiTUS.—SwAiissoy.* 

Trichas personalus, Sivain. Zool. Journ. No. 10, p. 167. — The Yellow-breasted 
Warbler, or Maryland Yellow-Tliroat, And. i. pi. 23, p. 121. 

This is one of the humble inhabitants of briers, brambles, alder 
bushes, and such shrubbery as grows most luxuriantly in low, watery 
situations ; and might with propriety be denominated Humility^ its 
business or ambition seldom leading it higher than the tops of the un- 
derwood. Insects and their larvae are its usual food. It dives into the 
deepest of the thicket, rambles among the roots, searches round the 
stems, examines both sides of the leaf, raising itself on its legs, so as to 
peep into every crevice ; amusing itself at times with a very simple, 
and not disagreeable, song or twitter, whitititee, ivhitititee, ivhHititee ; 
pausing for half a minute or so, and then repeating its notes as before. 
It inhabits the whole United States from Maine to Florida, and also 
Louisiana ; and is particularly numerous in the low, swampy thickets 
of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It is by no means shy; 
but seems deliberate and unsuspicious, as if the places it frequented, 
or its own diminutiveness, were its sufficient security. It often visits 
the fields of growing rye, wheat, barley, &c., and no doubt performs 
the part of a friend to the farmer, in ridding the stalks of vermin, that 
might otherwise lay waste his fields. It seldom approaches the farm- 
house, or city ; but lives in obscurity and peace, amidst its favorite 

* Mr. Swainson has formed from this species his genus Trichas, and bestowed 
upon it the new and appropriate name of personatus, or masked ; Marikmdica of 
Brisson and Wilson could scarcely be retained, Trichas of Linnaeus having the 
priority. The latter is now converted into a generic term j and as the species does 
not seem entirely confined to Marjland, another and more appropriate than either 
will perhaps make less confusion than the attempts to restore some old one. Mr. 
Swainson makes the following remarks upon the genus : — " This form is intimately 
connected with Synalaxis, and two or three other groups peculiar to Africa and 
Australia. Feebleness of flight and strength of foot separate these birds from the 
typical genera ; while the strength and curvature of the hind claw forbid us to as- 
sociate them with the true MotacillcB." 

The female is figured on No. 86, of this volume, where it is mentioned as one of 
the birds whose nest the Cow Bunting selects to deposit her eggs in. " The nest," 
according to Mr. Audubon, " is placed on the ground, and partly sunk in it : it is 
now and then covered over in the form of an oven, from which circumstance, chil- 
dren name this warbler the Oven-bird. It is composed extenially of withered 
leaves and grass, and is Imed with hair. The eggs are from four to six, of a white 
color, speckled with light brown, and are deposited about the middle of May. 
Sometimes two broods are reared in a season. I have never observed the egg of 
the Cow Bunting iu the nests of the second brood." 

The male birds do not attain their full plumage until the second spring. — Ed. 



CO YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. 

thickets. It arrives in Pennsylvania about the middle, or last week, of 
April, and begins to build its nest about the middle of May : this is 
fixed on the -ground, among the dried leaves, in the very depth of a 
thicket of briers, sometimes arched over, and a small hole left for en- 
trance ; the materials are dry leaves and fine grass, lined with coarse 
hair ; the eggs are five, white, or semi-transparent, marked with 
specks of reddish brown. The young leave the nest about the 22d of 
June ; and a second brood is often raised in the same season. Early 
in September they leave us, returning to the south. 

This pretty little species is four inches and three quarters long, and 
six inches and a quarter in extent ; back, wings, and tail, green olive, 
which also covers the upper part of the neck, but approaches to cine- 
reous on the crown ; the eyes are inserted in a band of black, which 
passes from the front, on both sides, reaching half way down the neck ; 
this is bounded above by another band of white, deepening into light 
blue ; throat, breast, and vent, brilUant yellow ; belly, a fainter tinge 
of the same color ; inside coverts of the ^vings, also yellow ; tips 
and inner vanes of the wings, dusky brown ; tail, cuneiform, dusky, 
edged with olive green ; bill, black, straight, slender, of the true 
Motadlla form, though the bird itself was considered as a species of 
Thrush by Linnseus, but very properly removed to the genus Mota- 
dlla by Gmelin ; legs, flesh colored ; iris of the eye, dark hazel. 
The female wants the black band through the eye, has the bill brown, 
and the throat of a much paler yellow. This last, I have good reason 
to suspect, has been described by Europeans as a separate species ; 
and that from Louisiana, referred to in the synonymes, appears evidently 
the same as the former, the chief difference, according to Buffbn, be- 
ing in its wedged tail, which is likewise the true form of our own 
species ; so that this error corrected will abridge the European 
nomenclature of two species. Many more examples of this kind will 
occur in the course of our descriptions. 



YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.* — PIPRA POLYGLOTTA.— 
Fig. 20. 

Muscicapa viridis, Gmel. Hijst. i. 93G. — Le Merle vert de la Caroline, Buifon, iii. 
396. — Chauering Flycatcher, Arct. Zocl. ii. No. 266. — La</i. Synop. iii.'350,48. 
— Garrulus australis, Bartram, 290. — Peale's Museum, No. 6661. 

ICTERIA yjRIDIS. — Bonaparte. 

Icleria dumicola, Vieill. Gal. des Ois. pi. 85, p. 119. — Icteria viridis, Bonap. 
Synop. p. 69. 

This is a very singular bird. In its voice and manners, and the 
habit it has of keeping concealed, while shifting and vociferating around 

* The Prince of Musignano remarks, when speaking of this bird, in his excellent 
Obsei-vations on the Noinenclaturs of Wilson's Ornithology, " It is not a little re- 



YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. 61 

you, it differs from most other birds ^^ ith which I am acquainted, and 
has considerable claims to originality of cliaracter. It arrives in 
Pennsylvania about the first week in May, and returns to the south 
again as soon as its young are able for the journey, which is usually 
about the middle of August; its term of residence here being scarcely 
four months. The males generally arrive several days before the 
females — a circumstance common with many other of our birds of 
passaire. 

When he has once taken up his residence in a favorite situation, 
which is almost always in close thickets of hazel, brambles, vines, 
and thick underwood, he becomes very jealous of his possessions, 
and seems offended at the least intrusion ; scolding every passenger 
as soon as they come within view, in a great variety of odd and un- 
couth monosyllables, which it is difficult to describe, but which may 
be readily imitated, so as to deceive the bird himself, and draw him 
after you for half a quarter of a mile at a time, as I have sometimes 
amused myself in doing, and frequently without once seeing him. 
On these occasions, his responses are constant and rapid, strongly 
expressive of anger and anxiety ; and while the bird itself remains 
unseen, the voice shifts from place to place, among the bushes, as if 
it proceeded from a spirit. First is heard a repetition of short notes, 
resembling the whistling of the wings of a Duck or Teal, beginning 
loud and rapid, and falling lower and slower, till they end in detached 
notes ; then a succession of others, something like the barking of 
young puppies, is followed by a variety of hollow, guttural sounds, 
each eight or ten times repeated, more like those proceeding from the 
throat of a quadruped than that of a bird ; which are succeeded by 
others not unlike the mewing of a cat, but considerably hoarser. All 
these are uttered wdth great vehemence, in such different keys, and 
with such peculiar modulations of voice, as sometimes to seem at a 
considerable distance, and instantly as if just beside you; now on 
this hand, now on that ; so that, from these manoeuvres of ventrilo- 
quism, you are utterly at a loss to ascertain from what particular spot 
or quarter they proceed. If the weather be mild and serene, with 
clear moonlight, he continues gabbling in the same strange dialect, 
with very little intermission, during the whole night, as if disputing 
with his own echoes; but probably with a design of inviting the 
passing females to his retreat ; for, when the season is further ad- 
vanced, they are seldom heard during the night. 

About the middle of May they begin to build. Their nest is 
usually fixed in the upper part of a bramble bush, in an almost im- 
penetrable thicket ; sometimes in a thick vine or small cedar ; seldom 
more than four or five feet from the ground. It is composed out- 

markable, that Wilson should have introduced this g-enus in his OmitJiology. The 
bird he placed in it has certainly no relation to the Slanakins, nor has any one of 
that genus been found within the United States. This bird has been placed by 
authors in half a dozen different genera. It was arranged in Muscicapa, by Gmelin, 
Latham, and Pennant 5 in Turdus, by Brisson and Buffon ; in Ampelis, by Sparr- 
man ; and in Tanagra, by Desmarcst. I was at first inclined to consider it as a 
Vireo ; but, after having dwelt more upon the characters and habits of this remark- 
able species, I have concluded to adopt Icteria as an independent erenus, agreeably 
to Vieillof'-En. 

6 



62 YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT. 

wardly of dry leaves ; within these are laid thin strips of the bark of 
grape-vines, and the inside is lined with fibrous roots of plants, and 
fine, dry grass. The female lays four egg's, slightly flesh colored, and 
speckled all over with spots of brown or dull red. The young are 
hatched in twelve days, and make their first excursion from the nest 
about the second week in June. A friend of mine, an amateur in 
Canary Birds, placed one of the Chat's eggs under a hen Canary, who 
brought it out ; but it died on the second day, though she was so 
solicitous to feed and preserve it, that her own eggs, which required 
two days more sitting, were lost through her attention to this. 

While the female of the Chat is sitting, the cries of the male are 
still more loud and incessant. When once aware that you have seen 
him, he is less solicitous to conceal himself, and will sometimes 
mount up into the air, almost perpendicularly, to the height of thirty 
or forty feet, with his legs hanging ; descending as he rose, by re- 
peated jerks, as if highly irritated, or, as is vulgarly said, " dancing 
mad." All this noise and gesticulation we must attribute to his ex- 
treme affection for his mate and young ; and when we consider the 
great distance which in all probability he comes, the few young pro- 
duced at a time, and that seldom more than once in the season, we 
can see the wisdom of Providence very manifestly in the ardency of 
his passions. 

Mr. Catesby seems to have first figured the Yellow-breasted Chat ; 
and the singularity of its manners has not escaped him. After re- 
peated attempts to shoot one of them, he found himself completely 
baffled, and was obliged, as he himself informs us, to employ an 
Indian for that purpose, who did not succeed without exercising all 
his ingenuity. Catesby also observed its dancing manceuvres, and 
supposed that it always flew with its legs extended ; but it is only in 
these paroxysms of rage and anxiety that this is done, as I have par- 
ticularly observed. 

The food of these birds consists chiefly of large black beetles, and 
other coleopterous insects ; I have also found whortleberries frequently 
in their stomach, in great quantities, as well as several other sorts of 
berries.* They are very numerous in the neighborhood of Philadel- 
phia, particularly on the borders of rivulets, and other watery situa-* 
tions, in hedges, thickets, &c., but are seldom seen in the forest, even 
where there is underwood. Catesby indeed asserts, that they are only 
found on the banks of large rivers, two or three hundred miles from 
the sea ; but, though this may be the case in South Carolina, yet in 
Maryland and New Jersey, and also in New York, I have met with 
these birds within two hours' walk of the sea, and in some places 
within less than a mile of the shore. I have not been able to trace 
him to any of the West India Islands ; though they certainly retire 
to Mexico, Guiana, and Brazil, having myself seen skins of these 
birds in the possession of a French gentleman, which were brought 
from the two latter countries. 

By recurring to the synonymes at the beginning of tliis article, it 
will be perceived how much European naturalists have differed in 

* VielHot mentions the fruit of the Solanum Carolinense as a particular favorite 
of tljis bird. — Ed. 



SUMMER RED-BIRD. 63 

classing this bird. That the judicious Mr. Pennant, Gmelin, and even 
Dr. Latham, however, should have arranged it witli the Flycatchers, 
is certainly very extraordinary ; as neither in the particular structure 
of its bill, tong-ue, feet, nor in its food or manners, has it any affinity 
whatever to that genus. Some other ornithologists have removed it 
to the Tanagers ; but the bill of the Chat, when compared with that 
of the Summer Red-Bird, (Fig. 21,) bespeaks it at once to be of a dif- 
ferent tribe. Besides, the Tanagers seldom lay more than two or three 
eggs ; the Chat usually four : tlie former build on trees ; the latter in 
low thickets. In short, though this bird will not exactly correspond 
with any known genus, yet the form of its bill, its food, and many of 
its habits, would almost justify us in classing it with the genus Pipra, 
(Manakin,) to which family it seems most nearly related. 

The Yellow-breasted Chat is seven inches long, and nine inches in 
extent ; the whole upper parts are of a rich and deep olive green, 
except the tips of the wings and interior vanes of the wing and tail- 
feathers, which are dusky brown ; the whole throat and breast is of a 
most brilliant yellow, which also lines the inside of the wings, and 
spreads on the sides immediately below ; the belly and vent are white ; 
the front, slate colored, or dull cinereous; lores, black; from the 
nostril, a line of white extends to the upper part of the eye, which it 
nearly encircles ; another spot of white is placed at the base of the 
lower mandible ; tlie bill is strong, slightly curved, sharply ridged on 
the top, compressed, overhanging a little at the tip, not notched, 
pointed, and altogether black ; the tongue is tapering, more fleshy 
than those of the Musdcapa tribe, and a little lacerated at the tip ; 
the nostril is oval, and half covered with an arching membrane ; legs 
and feet, light blue, hind claw rather the strongest, the two exterior 
toes united to the second joint. 

The female may be distinguished from the male by the black and 
white adjoining the eye being less intense or pure than in the male, 
and in having the inside of the mouth of a dirty flesh-color, which, in 
the male, is black ; in other respects, their plumage is nearly alike. 



SUMMER RED-BIRD. — TANAGRA ESTIVA. — Figs. 21, 22. 

Tana^a Mississippensis, Lath. Ind. Orn. i. 421, 5. — Mexican Tanager, Lath. 
Synop. iii. 219,5. b. — Tanagra variegata, JW. Orn. i.421,6. — Tanagra aestiva, 
Ind. Orn. i. 422, 7. — Muscicapa rubra, Linn. Syst. i. 326, 8. — Buff. vi. 252. 
PI. enl. 741. — Catesby, Car. i. 56. — Merula flammula, Sandhill Red-Bird, 
Bartram, ^9d. — Peale's Museum, No. 6134. 

PYRAJ^QA ESTIVA. — YiEiLLOT. 

Subgenus Pyranga,* Tanagra estiva, Bonap. Synop. p. 105. 

The change of color which this bird is subject to during the first 
year, and the imperfect figure first given of it by Catesby, have de- 

* Pyrantra has been used by Vieillot to designate a group among the Tanagers, 
having the bill of considerable strej)gth, and furnished on the upper mandible with 



64 SUMMER RED-BIRD. 

ceived the European naturalists so much, that four different species 
have been formed out of this one, as appears by the above synonymes, 
all of which are referable to the present species, the Suimner Red- 
Bird. As the female differs so much in color from the male, it has 
been thought proper to represent them both ; the female having never, 
to my knowledge, appeared in any former publication ; and all the 
figures of the other that I have seen being little better than carica- 
tures, from which a foreigner can form no just conception of the 
original. 

The male of the Summer Red-Bird (Fig. 21) is wholly of a rich ver- 
milion color, most brilliant on the lower parts, except the inner vanes 
and tips of the wings, which are of a dusky brown ; the bill is dispro- 
portionably large, and inflated, the upper mandible furnished with a 
process, and the whole bill of a yellowish horn color ; the legs and 
feet are light blue, inclining to purple ; the eye, large, the iris of a 
light hazel color ; the length of the whole bird, seven inches and a 
quarter ; and between the tips of the expanded wings, twelve inches. 
The female (Fig. 22) differs little in size from the male ; but is, above, 
of a brownish yellow olive, lightest over the eye ; throat, breast, and 
whole lower part of the body, of a dull orange yellow ; tips and in- 
terior vanes of the wings, brown ; bill, legs, and eye, as in the male. 
The nest is built in the woods, on the horizontal branch of a half- 
grown tree, often an evergreen, at the height of ten or twelve feet 
from the ground ; composed, outwardly, of broken stalks of dry flax, 
and lined with fine grass ; the female lays three light-blue eggs ; the 
young are produced about the middle of June ; and I suspect that the 
same pair raise no more than one brood in a season, for I have never 
found their nests but in May or June. Towards the middle of August, 
they take their departure for the soutli, their residence here being 
scarcely four months. The young are, at first, of a green olive above, 
nearly the same color as the female below, and do not acquire their full 
tints till the succeeding spring or summer. 

The change, however, commences the first season before their de- 
parture. In the month of August, the young males are distinguished 
from the females by their motley garb ; the yellow plumage below, 
as well as the olive green above, first becoming stained with spots of 
a buff color, which gradually brighten into red ; these being irregularly 
scattered over the whole body, except the wings and tail, particularly 
the former, which I have often found to contain four or five green 
quills in the succeeding June. The first of these birds I ever shot 
was green winged ; and conceiving it at that time to be a nondescript, 
I made a drawing of it with care ; and on turning to it at this moment, 
1 find the whole of the primaries, and two of the secondaries, yellowish 
green, the rest of the plumage a full red. This was about the middle 

an obUise tooth, — a structure which has been taken by Desmarest to denote his 
Tanagras Co/uriens, or Shrike-like Tanagers. They are also the Tanagras Car- 
dinal of Cuvier. Bonaparte, again, retains Vieillot's group, but only as a subgenus 
to Tanagra. 

It is composed of nine or ten species, three only being found in North America. 
They are generally of rich, sometimes gaudy, plumage, and require more than one 
year to arrive at maturity. They live m pairs, and leed on insects, berries, or soft 
seeds. — Ed. 



SUMMER RED-BIRD. 65 

of May. In the month of August, of the same year, being in tlie 
woods with the gun, I perceived a bird of very singular plumage, 
and having never before met with such an oddity, instantly gave chase 
to it. It appeared to me, at a small distance, to be sprinkled all over 
with red, green, and yellow. After a great deal of difficulty — for the 
bird had takeu notice of my eagerness, and had become extremely shy 
— I succeeded in bringing it down ; and found it to be a young bird 
of the same species with tlie one I had killed in the preceding May, 
but less advanced to its fixed colors ; the wings entirely of a greenish 
yellow, and the rest of the plumage spotted, in the most irregular 
manner, with red, yellow, brown, and greenish. This is the Vane- 
jraied Tanager, referred to in the synonymes prefixed to tliis article. 
Having, since that time, seen them in all their stages of color, during 
their residence here, I have the more satisfaction in assuring the 
reader that the whole four species mentioned by Dr. Latham are one 
and the same. The two figures in our plate represent the male and 
female in their complete plumage. 

The food of these birds consists of various kinds of bugs, and large 
black beetles. In several instances, I have found the stomach en- 
tirely filled with the broken remains of humble-bees. During tlie 
season of whortleberries, they seem to subsist almost entirely on these 
berries ; but, in the early part of the season, on insects of the above 
description. In Pennsylvania, they are a rare species, having myself 
sometimes passed a whole summer without seeing one of them; 
while in New Jersey, even within half a mile of the shore opposite 
the city of Philadelphia, they may generally be found during the 
season. 

The note of the male is a strong and sonorous whistle, resembling 
a loose trill or shake on the notes of a fife, frequently repeated; that 
of the female is rather a kind of chattering, approaching nearly to the 
rapid pronunciation of chicky-tucky-tuck, chicky-tucky-tuck, when she 
sees any person approaching the neighborhood of her nest. She is, 
however, rarely seen, and usually mute, and scarcely to be distin- 
guished from the color of the foliage at a distance ; while the loqua- 
city and brilliant red of the male make him very conspicuous ; and 
when seen among the green leaves, particularly if the light falls 
strongly on his plumage, he has a most beautiful and elegant appear- 
ance. It is worthy of remark, that the females of almost all our 
splendid feathered birds are dressed in plain and often obscure colors, 
as if Providence meant to favor their personal concealment, and, con- 
sequently, that of their nest and young, from the depredations of birds 
of prey ; while, among the latter, such as Eagles, Owls, Hawks, &c., 
which are under no such apprehension, the females are uniformly cov- 
ered with richer-colored plumage than the males. 

The Summer Red-Bird delights in a flat, sandy country covered 
with wood, and interspersed with pine-trees, and is consequently more 
numerous towards the shores of the Atlantic than in the interior. In 
both Carolinas, and in Georgia and Florida, they are in great plenty. 
In Mexico some of them are probably resident, or, at least, winter 
there, as many other of our summer visitants are known to do. In the 
Northern States they are very rare ; and I do not know that they have 
been found either in Upper or Lower Canada. Du Pratz, in his His- 
6* 



66 INDIGO BIRD. 

lory of Louisiana, has related some particulars of this bird, which have 
been repeated by almost every subsequent writer on the subject, viz., 
that " it inhabits the woods on the Mississippi, and collects against win- 
ter a vast magazine of maize, which it carefully conceals with dry 
leaves, leaving only a small hole for entrance ; and is so jealous of it, 
as never to quit its neighborhood, except to drink." It is probable, 
though I cannot corroborate the fact, that individuals of this species 
may winter near the Mississippi ; but that, in a climate so moderate, 
and where such an exuberance of fruits, seeds, and berries is to be 
found, even during winter, this, or any other bird, should take so much 
pains in hoarding a vast quantity of Indian com, and attach itself so 
closely to it, is rather apocryphal. The same writer, vol. ii. p. 24, re- 
lates similar particulars of the Cardinal Grosbeak, [Loxia cardinalis,) 
which, though it winters in Pennsylvania, where the climate is much 
more severe, and where the length and rigors of that season would 
require a far larger magazine, and be a threefold greater stunulus to 
hoarding, yet has no such habit here. Besides, I have never found a 
single grain of Indian corn in the stomach of the Summer Red-Bird, 
tliough I have examined many individuals of both sexes. On the 
whole, I consider this account of Du Pratz's in much the same light 
with that of his countryman, Charlevoix, who gravely infonns us, 
that the Owls of Canada lay up a store of live mice for winter ; the 
legs of which they first break, to prevent them from running away, 
and then feed them carefully, and fatten them, till wanted for use.* 

Its manners — though neither its bill nor tongue — partake very 
much of those of the Flycatcher ; for I have frequently observed both 
male and female, a little before sunset, in parts of the forest clear of 
underwood, darting after winged insects, and continuing thus engaged 
till it was almost dusk. 



INDIGO BIRD. — FRINGILLA CYANEA. — Fig. 23. 

Tanagra cyanea, Linn. Syst. i. 315. — Le M'mhtrc, Buf. iv. 86. — Indig-o Bunting', 
Arct. Zool. ii. No. 235. — La</i. Syrwp. iii. 205, 63. — Blue Linnet, Edw. 273.— 
Peale's Museum, No. 6002. — Linaria cyanea, Bart. p. 290. 

FRIJ^GILLA CYAJ^KA Wilson. 

Fringilla cyanea, Bonap. Sijnop.j p. 107. 

This is another of those rich plumaged tribes that visit us in spring 
from the regions of the south. It arrives in Pennsylvania on the 
second week in May, and disappears about the middle of September. 
It is numerous in all the settled parts of the Middle and Eastern States ; 

*^ Travels in Canada, vol. i. p. 239. Lond. 1761. 8vo. 

t By a letter from my friend, Mr. Swainson, I am informed that the Prince of 
Musignano intends to form a genus of this bird ; I have therefore provisionally 
added its present name, not wishing to interfere where I am acquainted with the 
intentions of another. It appears to range with the Tanagrince. — Ed. 



INDIGO EIRD. 67 

in the Carolinas and Georg-ia it is also abundant Though Catesby 
says that it is only found at a great distance from the sea, yet round 
the city of New York, and in many places along the shores of New 
Jersey, I have met with them in plenty. I may also add, on the 
authority of Mr. William Bartram, that "they inhabit the continent and 
sea-coast islands, from Mexico to Nova Scotia, from the sea-coast 
west beyond the Apalachian and Cherokee mountains." * They are 
also known in Mexico, Avhere they probably Avinter. Its favorite 
haunts, while with us, are about gardens, fields of deep clover, the 
borders of woods, and road sides, where it is frequently seen perched 
on the fences. In its manners, it is extremely active and neat, and a 
vigorous and pretty good songster. It mounts to the highest tops of a 
large tree, and chants for half an hour at a time. Its song is not one 
continued strain, but a repetition of short notes, commencing loud and 
rapid, and falling, by almost imperceptible gradations, for six or eight 
seconds, till they seem hardly articulate, as if the little minstrel were 
quite exhausted ; and, after a pause of half a minute, or less, com- 
mences again as before. Some of our birds sing only in spring, and 
tlien chiefly in the morning, being comparatively mute during the heat 
of noon; but the Indigo Bird chants with as much animation under 
the meridian sun, in the month of July, as in the month of May ; and 
continues his song, occasionally, to the middle or end of August. His 
usual note, when alarmed by an approach to his nest, is a sharp chip, 
like that of striking two hard pebbles smartly together. 

Notwithstanding the beauty of his plumage, the vivacity with which 
he sings, and the ease with which he can be reared and kept, the In- 
digo Bird is seldom seen domesticated. The few I have met with 
were taken in trap cages ; and such of any species rarely sing equal 
to those which have been reared by hand from the nest. There is one 
singularity which, as it cannot be well represented in the figure, may 
be mentioned here, viz. that, in some certain lights, his plumage ap- 
pears of a rich sky blue, and in others of a vivid verdigris green ; so 
that the same bird, in passing from one place to another before your 
eyes, seems to undergo a total change of color. When the angle of 
incidence of the rays of light, reflected from his phnnage, is acute, 
the color is green ; when obtuse, blue. Such, I think, I have observed 
to be uniformly the case, without being optician enough to explain 
why it is so. From this, however, must be excepted the color of the 
head, which, being of a very deep blue, is not affected by a change of 
position. 

The nest of this bird is usually built in a low bush, among rank 
grass, grain, or clover, suspended by two twigs, one passing up each 
side ; and is composed outwardly of flax, and lined with fine dry grass. 
I have also known it to build in the hollow of an apple-tree. The eggs, 
generally five, are blue, with a blotch of purple at the great end. 

The Indigo Bird is five inches long, and seven inches in extent ; 
the whole body is of a rich sky blue, deepening on the head to an ul- 
tramarine, with a tinge of purple ; the blue on the body, tail, and 
wings, varies in particular lights to a light green, or verdigris color, 
similar to that on the breast of a Peacock ; wings, black, edged with 

* Travels, p. 299. 



68 AMERICAN REDSTART. 

light blue, and becoming- brownish towards the tips ; Jesser coverts, 
light blue ; greater, black, broadly skirted with the same blue ; tail, 
black, exteriorly edged with blue ; bill, black above, whitish below, 
somewhat larger in proportion than Finches of the same size usually 
are, but less than those of the genus Emberiza, with which Mr. Pen- 
nant has classed it, though, I think, improperly, as the bird has much 
more of the form and manners of the genus Fringilla, where I must be 
permitted to place it ; legs and feet, blackish brown. The female is 
of a light flaxen color, Avith the wings dusky black, and the cheeks, 
breast, and whole lower parts, a clay color, with streaks of a darker 
color under the wings, and tinged in several places with bluish. To- 
wards fall, the male, while moulting, becomes nearly of the color of the 
female, and in one which I kept through the winter, the rich plumage 
did not return for more than two months ; though I doubt not, had the 
bird enjoyed his liberty and natural food under a Avarm sun, this brown- 
ness Avould have been of shorter duration. The usual food of this 
species is insects and various kinds of seeds. 



AMERICAN REDSTART. — MUSCICAPA RUTICILLA.— 
Fig. 24. 

3Iuscicapa ruticilla, Ly7m. Syst. i. 236, 10.— Gmel. Syst. i. 935. — Motacilla fla- 
vicauda, Gmel. Si/st. i. 997, (female.) — Le ^obe-mouche d' Amenque, Briss. 
Oi-n. ii. 383, 14. PL en/. 566, fig. 1, 2. — Small American Redstart, Edw. 80. 
Id. 257, (female.) Yellow-tailed Warbler, Arct. Zool. ii. No. 301. Id. ii. No. 
2S2. — Lath. Syn. iv. 427, 18. — ^rcf. Zool. ii. No. 301, (female.) — Pea/e's 
Museum, No. 6658. 

SETOPHAQA RUTICILLA. — SvfAivaoTi.* 

Muscicapa ruUciWdi, Bonap. Sy nop. p. 68. — Setophaga ruticilla. North. Zool. ii. 
223. — Setophag-a, Sioain. N. Groups, Zool. Journ. Sept. 1827, p. 360. 

Though this bird has been classed by several of our most respec- 
table ornithologists among the Warblers, yet in no species are the 
characteristics of the genus Muscicapa more decisively marked ; and, 
in fact, it is one of the most expert fly-catchers of its tribe. It is al- 
most perpetually in motion, and will pursue a retreating party of flies 
from the tops of the tallest trees, in an almost perpendicular, but zig- 
zag direction, to the ground, Avhile the clicking of its bill is distinctly 
heard ; and I doubt not but it often secures ten or tAvelve of these in 
a descent of three or four seconds. It then alights on an adjoining 
branch, traverses it length Avise for a few moments, flirting its expand- 
ed tail from side to side, and suddenly shoots off", in a direction quite 
unexpected, atler fresh game, which it can discover at a great distance. 

* This bird forms the type of Setophaira, Swamson ; a genus formed of a few 
species belonging entirely to the New World, and intimately connected with the 
fan-tailed Flycatchers of Australia, the Rhippidura: of Vigors and Horsfield. 

The young bird is figured in No. 186. — Ed. 



AMERICAN REDSTART. 69 

Its notes, or twitter, thougli animated and sprightly, are not deserving 
the name of song- ; sometimes they are ive^se, wehe^ weese, repeated 
every quarter of a minute, as it skips among the branches ; at other 
times this twitter varies to several other chants, which I can instantly 
distinguisli in the woods, but cannot hnd words to imitate. The in- 
terior of the forest, the borders of swamps and meadows, deep glens 
covered Avith wood, and wherever flying insects abound, there this 
little bird is sure to be seen. It makes its appearance in Pennsylvania, 
from the south, late in April ; and leaves us again about the beginning 
of September. It is very generally found over the whole United States, 
and has been taken at sea, in the fall, on its way to St. Domingo,* and 
other of the West India islands, where it winters, along with many- 
more of our summer visitants. It is also found in Jamaica, where it 
remains all winter.f 

The name Redstart, evidently derived from the German rotlisterts, 
(red tail,) has been given this bird from its supposed resemblance to 
the Redstart of Europe, [Motacilla phanicurus ;) but besides being 
decisively of a different genus, it is very different both in size and in 
the tints and disposition of the colors of its plumage. Buffon goes 
even so far as to question whether the differences between the two be 
more than what might be naturally expected from change of climate. 
This eternal reference of every animal of the New World to that of 
the Old, if adopted to the extent of this writer, with all the transmu- 
tations it is supposed to have produced, would leave us in doubt 
whether even the Ka-te-dids | of America were not originally Night- 
ingales of the Old World, degenerated by the inferiority of the food 
and climate of this upstart continent. We have in America many 
different species of birds that approach so near in resemblance to one 
anotlier. as not to be distinguished but by the eye of a naturalist, and 
on a close comparison ; these live in the same climate, feed on the 
same food, and are, I doubt not, the same now as they were five thousand 
years ago ; and, ten thousand years hence, if the species then exist, 
will be found marked with the same nice discriminations as at present 
It is therefore surprising, that two different species, placed in different 
quarters of the world, should have certain near resemblances to one 
anotlier, without being bastards, or degenerated descendants, tlie one 
of the other, when the whole chain of created beings seems united to 
each other by such amazing gradations, that bespeak, not random 
chance and accidental degeneracy, but the magnificent design of an 
incomprehensibly wise and omnipotent Creator. 

The American Redstart builds frequently in low bushes, in the 
fork of a small sapling, or on the drooping branches of the elm, within 
a few feet of the ground ; outwardly it is formed of flax, well wound 
together, and moistened with its saliva, interspersed here and there 
with pieces of lichen, and lined with a very soft, downy substance. 
The female lays five white eggs, sprinkled with gray, and specks of 
blackish. The male is extremely anxious for its preservation ; and. 



* Edwards. 
t Sloane. 

t A species of Gryllus, well known for its lively chatter during the evenings and 
nights of September and October. 



70 CEDAR BIRD. 

on a person's approaching the place, will flirt about within a few feet, 
seeming greatly distressed.* 

The length of this species is five inches ; extent, six and a quarter; 
the general color above is black, which covers the whole head and 
neck, and spreads on the upper part of the breast in a rounding form, 
where, as well as on the head and neck, it is glossed with steel blue ; 
sides of the breast below this, black ; the inside of the wings, and 
upper half of the wing-quills, are of a fine aurora color ; but the 
greater and lesser coverts of the wings, being black, conceal this ; 
and the orange or aurora color appears only as a broad, transverse 
band across the wings ; from thence to the tip, they are brownish ; 
the four middle feathers of the tail are black, the other eight of the 
same aurora color, and black towards the tips : belly and vent, white, 
slightly streaked with pale orange ; legs, black ; bill, of the true 
JMuscicapa form, triangular at the base, beset with long bristles, and 
notched near the point The female has not the rich aurora band across 
the wing ; her back and crown are cinereous, inclining to olive ; tlie 
white below is not so pure ; lateral feathers of the tail and sides of 
the breast, greenish yellow ; middle tail-feathers, dusky brown. The 
young males of a year old are almost exactly like the female, difiering 
in these particulars, that they have a yellow band across the wings 
which the female has not, and the back is more tinged with brown : 
the lateral tail-feathers are also yellow ; middle ones, brownish black ; 
inside of the wings, yellow. On the third season, they receive tlieir 
complete colors ; and, as males of the second year, in nearly the dress 
of the female, are often seen in the woods, having the same notes as 
the full-plmnaged male, it has given occasion to some people to assert 
that the females sing as well as the males ; and others have taken 
them for another species. The fact, however, is as I have stated it. 
This bird is too little known by people in general to have any provin- 
cial name. 



CEDAR BIRD. — AMPELIS AMERICANA.— Fig. 25. 

Ampelis garrulus, Linn. Syst. i. 297, 1, /?. — Bombycilla Carolinensis, Brisson, ii. 
337. 1. Id. 8vo. i. 251. — Chatterer of Carolina, Catesb. i. 46. — Arct. Zool. ii. 
No. 207. — Lath. Si/n. iii. 93. 1, a. — Edw. 2-i2. — Cook's Last Voyage, ii. 518. 
— Ellis's Voyage, ii. 13. — Peak's Museum, No. 5608. 

B 0MB YCILLJl AMERIC^JVJl. — Swainson. 

Lejaseur du c^dre, Bombycilla cedorum, VieiU. Gal. des Ois. pi. cwnii. p. 186. — 
Bombycilla Carolinensis, Bonap. Synop. p. 59. — Bombvcilla Americana, North. 
Zool. ii. p. 239. ' y y ^ ^ 

The figure of the Cedar Bird which accompanies this description 
was drawn from a very beautiful specimen ; and exhibits the form of 

* Mr. Audubon says, " The nest is slight, composed of lichens and dried fibres, 
of rank weeds, or grape vines, nicely lined with soft, cotton materials." — P. 203. 
— Ed. 



CEDAR BIRD. 71 

its crest when erected, which gives it so gay and elegant an appear- 
ance. At pleasure it can lower and contract this so closely to its 
head and neck as not to be observed. The plumage of these birds is 
of an exquisitely fine and silky texture, lying extremely smooth and 
glossy. Notwithstanding the name Chatterers given to them, they are 
perhaps the most silent species we have ; making only a feeble, lisping 
sound, chiefly as they rise or alight. They fly in compact bodies, of 
from twenty to fifty ; and usually alight so close together on the same 
tree, that one half are frequently shot down at a time. In the months 
of July and August, they collect together in flocks, and retire to the 
hilly parts of the state, the Blue Mountains, and other collateral 
ridges of the Alleghany, to enjoy the fruit of the Vaccinium uligino- 
sum, whortleberries, which grow there in great abundance ; whole 
mountains, for many miles, being almost entirely covered with them ; 
and where, in the month of August, I have myself found the Cedar 
Birds numerous. In October they descend to the lower, cultivated 
parts of the country, to feed on the berries of the sour gum and red 
cedar, of which last they are immoderately fond ; and thirty or forty 
may sometimes be seen fluttering among the branches of one small 
cedar-tree, plucking off* the berries.* They are also found as far 
south as Mexico, as appears from the accounts of Fernandez, Seba,f 
and others. Fernandez saw them near Tetzeuco, and calls them 
Coquantotl ; says they delight to dwell in the mountainous parts of 
tlie country; and that their flesh and song are both indifferent^ 
Most of our epicures here are, however, of a different opinion, as to 
tlieir palatableness ; for, in the fall and beginning of summer, when 
they become very fat, they are in considerable esteem for the table ; 
and great numbers are brought to the market of Philadelphia, where 
tliey are sold from twelve to twenty-five cents per dozen. During 
the whole winter and spring they are occasionally seen ; and, about 
tlie 25th of May, appear in numerous parties, making great havock 
among tlie early cherries, selecting the best and ripest of the fruit 

* They appear all to be berry-eaters, at least during winter. Those of Europe 
have generally been observed to feed on the fruit of the mountain ash, and one or 
two killed near Carlisle, which I had an opportunity of examining, were literally 
crammed with hoUyberries. " The appetite of the Cedar Bird," Audubon remarks, 
'' is of so extraordinary a nature as to prompt it to devour every fruit or berry that 
comes in its way. In this manner they gorge themselves to such excess as some- 
limes to be unable to fly, and suffer themseUes to be taken by the hand ; and I 
have seen some, which, though wounded and confined to a cage, have eaten apples 
until suffocation deprived them of life." — P. 227. " But they are also excellent fly- 
catchers, spending much of their time in the pursuit of winjjcd insects : this is not, 
however, managed with the vivacity or suddenness of true Flycatchers, but with a 
kind of listlessness. They start from the branches, and give chase to the insects, 
ascending after them for a few yards, or move horizontally towards them, and as 
soon as the prey is secured, return to the spot, where they continue watching with 
slow motions of the head. This amusement is carried on during evening, and 
longer at the approach of autumn, when the berries becoirte scarce. They become 
very fat during the season of fruits, and are then so tender and juicy as to be sought 
after by every epicure for the table, — a basketful of these birds is sometimes sent 
as a Christmas present." — P. 223. — Ed. 

t The figure of this bird, in Seba's voluminous work, is too wretched for criti- 
cism ; it is there called " Oiseau Xomotl, d'Amerique, huppee." See. ii. p. 66, t. 
65, fig. 5. 

t Hist. Av. Nov. Hisp. 55. 



72 CEDAR BIRD. 

Nor are they easily intimidated by the presence of Mr. Scarecrow ; 
for I have seen a flock deliberately feasting on the fruit of a loaded 
cherry-tree, while on the same tree one of these guardian angels, and a 
very formidable one too, stretched his stiffened arms, and displayed his 
dangling legs, with all the pomposity of authority. At this time of the 
season most of our resident birds, and many of our summer visitants, 
are sitting, or have young ; while, even on the 1st of June, the eggs 
in the ovary of the female Cedar Bird are no larger than mustard seed ; 
and it is generally the 8th or 10th of that month before they begin to 
build. These last are curious circumstances, which it is difficult to 
account for, unless by supposing that incubation is retarded by a 
scarcity of suitable food in spring, berries and other fruit being their 
usual fare. In May, before the cherries are ripe, they are lean, and 
little else is found in their stomachs than a few slirivelled cedar ber- 
ries, the refuse of the former season, and a few fragments of beetles 
and other insects, which do not appear to be their common food ; 
but in June, while cherries and strawberries abound, they become 
extremely fat ; and, about the 10th or 12tli of that month, disperse 
over the country in pairs to breed ; sometimes fixing on the cedar, but 
generally choosing the orchard for that purpose. The nest is large 
for the size of the bird, fixed in the forked or horizontal branch of an 
apple-tree, ten or twelve feet from the ground ; outwardly, and at 
bottom, is laid a mass of coarse, dry stalks of grass, and the inside is 
lined wholly with very fine stalks of the same material. The eggs 
are three or four, of a dingy bluish white, thick at the great end, 
tapering suddenly, and becoming very narrow at the other ; marked 
with small, roundish spots of black of various sizes and shades ; and 
the great end is of a pale, dull, purple tinge, marked likewise with 
touches of various shades of purple and black. About the last week 
in June the young are hatched, and are at first fed on insects and 
their larvae ; but, as they advance in growth, on berries of various 
kinds. These facts I have myself been an eye-witness to. The 
female, if disturbed, darts from the nest in silence to a considerable 
distance ; no notes of wailing or lamentation are heard from either 
parent, nor are they even seen, notwithstanding you are in the tree 
examining the nest and young. These nests are less frequently 
found than many others, owing, not only to the comparatively few 
numbers of the birds, but to the remarkable muteness of the species. 
The season of love, which makes almost every other small bird 
musical, has no such effect on them ; for they continue, at that inter- 
esting period, as silent as before. 

This species is also found in Canada, where it is called Recollet^ 
probably, as Dr. Latham supposes, from the color and appearance of 
its crest rescMiibling the hood of an order of friars of that denomination. 
It has also been met with by several of our voyagers on the north-west 
coast of America, and appears to have an extensive range. 

Almost all the ornithologists of Europe persist in considering this 
bird as a variety of the European Chatterer, {^1. garruhis,) with what 
justice or propriety a mere comparison of the two will determine.* 

* The small American species, figured by our author, was by many considered 
as only the American variety of that which was thought to belong to Europe and 



CEDAR BIRD. 73 

The European species is very nearly twice the cubic bulk of ours ; 
has the whole lower parts of a uniform dark vinous bay ; the tips of 
the wings streaked with lateral bars of yellow ; the nostrils, covered 
with bristles ; * the feathers on the chin, loose and tufted ; the wings, 
black ; and the markings of white and black on the sides of the head 
different from the American, which is as follows : — Length, seven 
inches, extent eleven inches ; head, neck, breast, upper part of the 
back and wing-coverts, a dark fawn color, darkest on the back, and 
brightest on the front ; head, ornamented with a high, pointed, almost 
upright, crest ; line from the nostril over the eye to tlie hind head, 
velvety black, bordered above with a fine line of white, and another 
line of white passes from the lower mandible ; chin, black, gradually 
brightening into fawn color, the feathers there lying extremely close ; 
bill, black; upper mandible nearly triangular at the base, without 
bristles, short, rounding at the point, where it is deeply notched ; the 
lower, scolloped at the tip, and turning up ; tongue, as in the rest of 
the genus, broad, thin, cartilaginous, and lacerated at the end ; belly, 
yellow ; vent, white ; wings, deep slate, except the two secondaries 
next the body, whose exterior vanes are of a fawn color, and interior 
ones, white ; forming two whitish stripes there, which are very con- 
spicuous ; rump and tail-coverts, pale light blue ; tail, the same, grad- 
ually deepening into black, and tipped for half an inch with rich yel- 
low. Six or seven, and sometimes the whole nine, secondary feathers 
of the wings are ornamented at the tips with small, red, oblong appen- 
dages, resembling red sealing-wax ; these appear to be a prolongation 
of the shafts, and to be intended for preserving the ends, and conse- 
quently the vanes, of the quills, from being broken and worn away by 
the almost continual fluttering of the bird among thick branches of 
the cedar. The feathers of those birds, which are without these ap- 
pendages, are uniformly found ragged on the edges, but smooth and 
perfect in those on whom the marks are full and numerous. These 
singular marks have been usually considered as belonging to the male 
alone, from the circumstance, perhaps, of finding female birds without 
them. They are, however, common to both male and female. Six of 
the latter are now lying before me, each with large and numerous 
clusters of eggs, and having the waxen appendages in full perfection. 
The young birds do not receive them until the second fall, when, in 
moulting time, they may be seen fully formed, as the feather is devel- 
oped from its sheath. I have once or twice found a solitary one on 
the extremity of one of the tail-feathers. The eye is of a dark blood 
color; the legs and claws, black; the inside of the mouth, orange; 

Asia alone. The fallacy of this opinion was decided by the researches of several 
ornithologists, and latterly confirmed, by the discovery in America of the B. gar- 
rudus itself, the description of which will form a part of Vol. III. (of the London 
edition.) 

The genus Bombijcilla of Brisson is generally adopted for these two birds, and 
will now also contain a third very beautiful and nearly allied species, discovered in 
Japan by the enterprising, but unfortunate, naturalist Seibold, and figured in the 
Planches Coloriees of M. Temminck, under the name of B. phcenicoptera. It may 
be remarked, that the last wants the waxlike appendages to the wings and tail ; at 
least so they are represented in M. Temminck's plate ; but our own species some- 
times wants them also. — Ed. 

* TUETON. 

7 



74 CEDAR BIRD. 

gap, wide ; and the gullet capable of such distention as often to con- 
tain twelve or fifteen cedar berries, and serving as a kind of craw to 
prepare them for digestion. No wonder, then, that this gluttonous 
bird, with such a mass of food almost continually in its throat, should 
want both the inclination and powers for vocal melody, which would 
seem to belong to those only of less gross and voracious habits. The 
chief difference in the plumage of the male and female consists in the 
dulness of the tints of the latter, the inferior appearance of the crest, 
and the narrowness of the yellow bar on the tip of the tail. 

Though I do not flatter myself with being able to remove that pre- 
judice from the minds of foreigners, which has made them look on 
Uiis bird, also, as a degenerate and not a distinct species from their 
own, yet they must allow that the change has been very great, very 
uniform, and universal, all over North America, where I have never 
heard that the European species has been found ; or, even if it were, 
this would only show more clearly the specific difference of the two, 
by proving that climate or food could never have produced these dif- 
ferences in either when botli retain them, though confined to the same 
climate. 

But it is not only in the color of their plumage that these two birds 
differ, but in several important particulars in their manners and habits. 
The breeding-place of the European species is absolutely unknown ; 
supposed to be somewhere about the polar regions ; from whence, 
in Avinter, they make different and very irregular excursions to various 
parts of Europe ; seldom advancing farther south than the north of 
England, in lat. 54° N., and so irregularly, that many years sometimes 
elapse between their departure and reappearance ; which, in more 
superstitious ages, has been supposed to portend some great national 
calamity. On the other hand, the American species inhabits the 
whole extensive range between Mexico and Canada, and perhaps 
much farther both northerly and southerly, building and rearing their 
young in all the intermediate regions, often in our g'ardens and or- 
chards, within a few yards of our houses. Those of our fellow-citizens 
wJio have still any doubts, and wish to examine for themselves, may 
see beautiful specimens of both birds in the superb collection of Mr. 
Charles W. Peale of Philadelphia, whose magnificent museum is 
indeed a national blessing, and will be a lasting honor to his memory. 

In some parts of the country they are called Crown Birds ; in others 
Cherry Birds, from their fondness for that fruit. They also feed on 
ripe persimmons, small winter grapes, bird cherries, and a great variety 
of other fruits and berries. The action of the stomach on these seeds 
and berries does not seem to injure their vegetative powers, but 
rather to promote them, by imbedding tliem in a calcareous case ; and 
they are thus transported to and planted in various and distant parts 
by these little birds. In other respects, however, their usefulness to 
the farmer may be questioned ; and in the general chorus of the 
featliered songsters tliey can scarcely be said to take a part. We 
must, therefore, rank them fiu below many more homely and minute 
warblers, their neighbors, whom Providence seems to have formed, 
both as allies to protect the property of the husbandman from devour- 
ing insects, and as musicians to cheer him, while engaged in the 
labors of the field, witli tlieir innocent and delightful melody. 



RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. 75 



RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. — PICUS CAROLINUS — 
Fig. 26. 

Picus Carolinus, Linn. Syst. i. 174, 10. — Pic varie de la Jamaique, JBt(^on, vii. 72. 
PI enl. 597. — Picus varius medius Jamaicensis, Sloan. Jam. z99, 15. — Jamaica 
Woodpecker, Edw. 2W. — Cates. i. 19, fig. 2. Arct. ZooL ii. No. 161. — Lath. 
Syn. ii. 570, 17. Id. oil, 17, A. Id. ,5. — L'Epeiche raye de la Louisiane, .fiM/". 
vii. 73. PL enl. 692. — Peak's Mmeum, No. 1944. 

COLAPTES C.;3i20£/JVf7S. — SwAiNsoN. 

Picus Caroliiius, Bonap. Synop. p. 45. — Picus erythrauchen, Wagl. Syst. Av 
No. 38. 

This species possesses all the restless and noisy habits so charac- 
teristic of its tribe. It is more shy and less domestic than the Red- 
headed one, (P. erythrocephalus,) or any of the other spotted Wood- 
peckers. It is also more solitary. It prefers the largest, high-timbered 
woods, and tallest decayed trees of the forest; seldom appearing near 
the gromid, on the fences, or in orchards, or open fields ; yet wliere 
the trees have been deadened, and stand pretty thick, in fields of 
Indian corn, as is common in new settlements, I have observed it to 
be very numerous, and have found its stomach sometimes completely 
filled with that grain.* Its voice is hoarser than any of the others ; 
and its usual note, " chow," has often reminded me of the barking of 
a little lapdog. It is a most expert climber, possessing extraordinary 
strength in the muscles of its feet and claws, and moves about the 
bodylmd horizontal limbs of the trees with equal facility in all direc- 
tions. It rattles, like the rest of the tribe, on the dead limbs, and with 
such violence as to be heard, in still weather, more than half a mile off, 
and listens to hear tlie insects it has alarmed. In the lower side of 
,some lofty branch that makes a considerable angle with the horizon, 
•the male and female, in conjunction, dig out a circular cavity for their 
nest, sometimes out of the solid wood, but more generally into a hollow 
limb, twelve or fifteen inches above where it becomes solid. This is 
usually perfonned early in April. The female lays five eggs, of a pure 
white, or almost semi-transparent; and the young generally make 
tlieir appearance towards the latter end of May, or beginning of 

* This species will also ranffe in the genus Colapies, but will present a more 
aberrant form. In it we have the compressed and slightly bent shape of the bill, 
becoming- stronger and more angular ; we have the barred plumage of the upper 
parts, but that of the head is uniform and only slightly elongated behind ; and in the 
wings and tail the shafts of the quills lose their strength and beautiful color. In 
Wilson's description of the habits, we also find them agreeing with the modifications 
of form. It prefers the more solitary recesses of lofty forests ; and, though capable 
of turning and twisting, and possessing a great part of the activity of the Nuthatch 
and Titmice, it seldom appears about orchards or upon the ground ; yet it occa- 
sionally visits the corn-fields, and feeds on the grain, and, as remarked above, is 
" capable of subsisting on coarser and more various fare." These modifications 
of habit we shall always find in unison with the structure ; and we cannot too much 
admire the wisdom that has thus mutually adapted them to the various offices they 
are destined to fill. — Ed. 



76 RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER. 

June, climbing up to the higher parts of the tree, being as yet unable 
to fly. In this situation they are fed for several days, and often become 
the prey of the Hawks. From seeing the old ones continuing their 
caresses after this period, I believe that they often, and perhaps 
always, produce two broods in a season. During the greatest part of 
the summer, the young have the ridge of the neck and head of a 
dull brownish ash ; and a male of the third year has received his 
complete colors. 

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is ten inches in length, and seven- 
teen in extent; the bill is nearly an inch and a half in length, wedged 
at the point, but not quite so much grooved as some others, strong, 
and of a bluish black color ; the nostrils are placed in one of these 
grooves, and covered with curving tufts of light brown hairs, ending 
in black points ; the feathers on tlie front stand more erect than 
usual, and are of a dull yellowish red ; from thence, along tlie whole 
upper part of the head and neck, down the back, and spreading round 
to the shoulders, is of the most brilliant, golden, glossy red; the 
whole cheeks, line over the eye, and under side of the neck, are a 
pale buff color, which, on the breast and belly, deepens into a yellow- 
ish ash, stained on the belly with a blood red ; the vent and thigh 
feathers are dull white, marked doAvn their centres with heart-formed 
and long arrow-pointed spots of black. The back is black, crossed 
with transverse curving lines of white ; the wings are also black ; the 
lesser wing-coverts circularly tipped, and the whole primaries and 
secondaries beautifully crossed with bars of white, and also tipped 
with the same ; the rump is white, interspersed with touches of black ; 
the tail-coverts, white near their extremities ; the tail consists of ten 
feathers, the two middle ones black, their interior webs or vanes 
white, crossed witli diagonal spots of black ; these, when the edges 
of the two feathers just touch, coincide and form heart-shaped spots ; 
a narrow sword-shaped line of white runs up the exterior side of the 
shafts of the same feathers; the next four feathers, on each side, are 
black ; the outer edges of the exterior ones, barred with black and 
white, which, on the lower side, seems to cross the whole vane, as in 
the figure ; the extremities of the whole tail, except the outer feather, 
are black, sometimes touched with yellowish or cream color ; the legs 
and feet are of a bluish green, and the iris of the eye red. The 
tongue, or os hyoides, passes up over the hind head, and is attached, 
by a very elastic, retractile membrane, to the base of the right nos- 
tril; the extremity of the tongue is long, horny, very pointed, and 
thickly edged wi'tli barbs ; the other part of the tongue is worm- 
shaped. In several specimens, I found the stomach nearly filled with 
pieces of a species of fungus that grows on decayed wood,* and, in 
all, with great numbers of insects, seeds, gravel, &c. The female 
differs from the male, in having the crown, for an inch, of a fine ash, 
and the black not so intense ; the front is reddish, as in tlie male, and 
the whole hind liead, down to the back, likewise of the same rich red 
as his. In the bird, from which this latter description was taken, I 

* Most probably swallowed w\{h the insects which infest and are nourished in the 
various Boleti pohrpoi-i, &:c., but foniiing no part of their real food. — Ed. 



YELLOW-TIIROATED FLYCATCHER. 77 

found a laro^e cluster of minute eggs, to the number of fifty, or up- 
wards, in the beginnings of the month of March. 

This species inhabits a large extent of country, in all of which it 
seems to be resident, or nearly so. 1 found them abundant in Upper 
Canada, and in the northern parts of tlie state of New York, in the 
month of November ; tliey also inhabit the whole Atlantic states as 
far as Georgia, and the southern extremity of Florida, as Avell as the 
interior parts of the United States, as far west as Chilicothe, in the 
state of Ohio, and, according to Butfon, Louisiana. Tlicy are said 
to be the only Woodpeckers found in Jamaica, though 1 question 
whether this be correct, and to be extremely fond of the capsicum, or 
Indian pepper.* They are certainly much hardier birds, and capable 
of subsisting on coarser and more various fare, and of sustaining a 
greater degree of cold, than several other of our Woodpeckers. They 
are active and vigorous : and, being almost continually in search of 
insects that injure our forest-trees, do not seem to deserve the injurious 
epithets that almost all writers have given them. It is true, they fre- 
quently perforate the timber, in pursuit of these vermin ; but this is 
almost always in dead and decaying parts of the tree, which are the 
nests and nurseries of millions of destructive insects. Considering 
matters in this light, I do not think their services overpaid by all the 
ears of Indian corn they consume, and would protect them, witliin 
my own premises, as being more useful than injurious. 



YELLOW-THROATED FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA 
SYLVICOLA. — Fig. 27. 

Peale's Museum, No. 6827. 

VIREO t FLAVIFROJ^S. — Vieillot. 

Vireo flavifrons, Bonap. Synop. p. 70. 

This summer species is found chiefly in the woods, hunting among 
the high branches ; and has an indolent and plaintive note, which it 
repeats with some little variation, every ten or twelve seconds, like 

* Sloane. 

t Vireo is a ^enus originally formed by Vieillot to contain an American CTOup 
of birds, since tne formation of which several additions have been made by Bona- 
parte and Swainson of species which were not at first contemplated as belonging 
to it. 

The group is peculiar to both continents of America, — they inhabit woods, feed 
on insects and berries, and in their manner have considerable alliance to the War- 
blers and Flycatchers. By Mr. Swainson they are placed among the Ampelidcc, 
or berry-eaters, but with a mark of uncertainty whether they should stand here or 
at the extremity of some other family. The arctic expedition has added a new 
species much allied to F. oliraceus. Mr. Swainson has dedicated it to the venera- 
ble naturalist Bartram, the intimate friend of Wilson, and mentions, that, on com- 
paring seventeen species, Vireo Bartramii was much smaller, the colors rather 

7* 



78 YELLOW-THROATED FLYCATCHER. 

preed, preea, &c. It is often heard in company with the Red-eyed 
Flycatcher [Muscicapa olivacea) or Whip-tom-kelly of Jamaica ; the 
loud, energ-etic notes of the latter, mingling with the soft, languid war- 
ble of the former, producing an agreeable effect, particularly during 
the burning heat of noon, when almost every other songster but 
these two is silent Those who loiter through the shades of our 
magnificent forests at that hour, will easily recognize both species. 
It arrives from the south early in May ; and returns again with its 
young about the middle of September. Its nest, which is sometimes 
fixed on the upper side of a limb, sometimes on a horizontal branch 
among the twigs, generally on a tree, is composed outwardly of thin 
strips of the bark of grape vines, moss, lichens, &c., and lined with 
fine fibres of such like substances ; the eggs, usually four, are white, 
thinly dotted with black, chiefly near the great end. Winged insects 
are its principal food. 

Whether this species has been described before or not, I must 
leave to the sagacity of tlie reader, who has the opportunity of exam- 
ining European works of this kind, to discover.* I have met with 
no description in Pennant, Buffon, or Latham, that will properly apply 
to this bird, which may perhaps be owing to the imperfection of tlie 
account, rather than ignorance of the species, which is by no means 
rare. 

The Yellow-throated Flycatcher is five inches and a half long, and 
nine inches from tip to tip of the expanded wings ; the upper part of 
tlie head, sides of the neck, and the back, are of a fine yellow olive ; 
throat, breast, and line over the eye, which it nearly encircles, a deli- 
cate lemon yellow, which, in a lighter tinge, lines the wings ; belly 
and vent, pure silky white ; lesser wing-coverts, lower part of the 
back, and rump, ash ; wings, deep brown, almost black, crossed with 
two white bars; primaries, edged with light ash, secondaries, with 
white ; tail, a little forked, of the same brownish black with tlio 
wings, the three exterior feathers edged on each vane with white ; 
legs and claAvs, light blue ; the two exterior toes united to the middle 
one, as far as the second joint ; bill, broad at the base, with three or 
four slight bristles, the upper mandible overhanging the lower at the 
point, near which it is deeply notched ; tongue, thin, broad, tapering 
near the end, and bifid ; the eye is of a dark hazel ; and the whole 
bill of a dusky light blue. The female differs very little in color 
from the male ; the yellow on the breast, and round the eye, is duller, 
and the white on the wings less pure. 

brighter, the wings considerably shorter and more rounded, and the first quill al- 
ways shorter than the fifth, — that V. oHvaceiis is confined to North America, while 
V. Bartramii extends to Brazil. The species of the arctic expedition were pro- 
cured by Mr. David Douglas on the banks of the Columbia. Mr. Swainson also 
met with the species in the Brazils ; and, from specimens sent to us by that gentle- 
man, I have no hesitation in considering them distinct, and of at once recognizing 
the differences he has pointed out. 

Mr. Audubon has figured another snecies which will rank as an addition to this 
genus, and, if proved new, will stand as Vireo Vi^orsii; he has only met with a 
single individual in ronnsylvania. and enters into no description of its history, or 
distinctions from other allied birds. — Ed. 

* See Orange-throated Warbler, Latham, Syn- ii. 481, 103. 



PURPLE FINCH. 79 



PURPLE FINCH. — FRINGILLA PURPUREA. — Fig. 28. 

Frindlla purpurea Gmel. Sijst. i. 923. — Bouvreuil violet de la Caroline, Buff. iv. 
39^. _ Purple F"nch, Arct. Zool. ii. No. 258. — Catesb. i. 41. — Lath. Synop. iii. 
275, 39. — Crimson-headed Finch, Arct. Zool. ii. No. 257. — Lath. Stjnop. iii. 
275, 39. — Gmel. Syst. i. 864. — Fringilla rosea Pallas, iii. 699, 26. — Hemp 
Bird, ^artront, 291. — Fringilla Purpurea, /c/. 291.— Peak's Museum, No. 6504. 

ERYTHROSPIZjI purpurea. — Boti at \kte. 

Frinffilla purpurea, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 114. — Purple Finch, Aud. i. p. 24. PI. iv.— 
Fnngilla purpurea. Crested Purple Finch, North. Zool. ii. p. 264. — Erythrospiza 
purpurea, Osserv. di C. L. Bonap. Sulla Sec. Ed. del. Cuv. Reg. Anim. p. 80. 

This is a winter bird of passage, coming to us in large flocks from 
the north, in September and October; great numbers remaining with 
us in Pennsylvania during the whole winter, feeding on the seeds of 
the poplar, button- wood, juniper, cedar, and on those of many rank 
weeds tliat flourish in rich bottoms, and along the margin of creeks. 
When the season is very severe, they proceed to the south, as far at 
least as Georgia, returning north early in April. They now frequent 
the elm-trees, feeding on the slender but sweet covering of the 
flowers ; and as soon as the cherries put out their blossoms, feed 
almost exclusively on the stamina of the flowers ; afterwards the 
apple blossoms are attacked in the same manner ; and their depreda- 
tions on these continue till they disappear, which is usually about the 
10th or middle of May. I have been told that they sometimes breed 
in tlie northern parts of New York, but have never met with their 
nests. About the middle of September, I found these birds numerous 
on Long Island, and round Newark in New Jersey. They fly at a 
considerable height in the air, and their note is a single chinh, like 
that of the Rice Bird. They possess great boldness and spirit, and, 
when caught, bite violently, and hang by the bill from your hand, 
striking with great fury ; but they are soon reconciled to confine- 
ment, and in a day or two are quite at home. I have kept a pair of 
these birds upwards of nine months to observe their manners. One 
was caught in a trap, the other was winged with the gun ; both are 
now as familiar as if brought up from the nest by the hand, and 
seem to prefer hemp seed and cherry blossoms to all other kinds 
of food. Both male and female, though not crested, are almost 
constantly in the habit of erecting the feathers of the crown ; they 
appear to be of a tyrannical and domineering disposition, for they 
nearly killed an Indigo Bird, and two or three others, that were 
occasionally placed with them, driving them into a corner of the cage, 
standing on them, and tearing out their feathers, striking them on the 
head, munching their wings, &c., till I was obliged to interfere ; and, 
even if called to, the aggressor would only turn up a malicious eye to 
me for a moment, and renew his outrage as before. They are a hardy, 
vigorous bird. In the month of October, about the time of their first 
arrival, I shot a male, rich in plumage, and plump in flesh, but which 
wanted one leg, that had been taken ofl" a little above the knee ; the 



80 PURPLE FINCH. 

wound had healed so completely, and was covered with so thick a 
skin, that it seemed as though it had been so for years. Whether 
this mutilation was occasioned by a shot, or in party quarrels of its 
own, I could not determine ; but our invalid seemed to have used his 
stump either in hopping or resting, for it had all the appearance of 
having been brought in frequent contact with bodies harder than 
itself. 

This bird is a striking example of the truth of what I have frequently 
repeated in this work, that in many instances the same bird has been 
more than once described by the same person as a different species; 
for it is a fact which time will establish, that the Crimson-headed 
Finch of Pennant and Latham, the Purple Finch of the same and 
other naturalists, the Hemp Bird of Bartram, and the FringiUa rosea 
of Pallas, are one and the same, viz., the Purple Finch, the subject of 
the present article.* 

The Purple Finch is six inches in length, and nine in extent ; head, 
neck, back, breast, rump, and tail-coverts, dark crimson, deepest on 
the head and chin, and lightest on the lower part of the breast; the 
back is streaked with dusky ; the wings and tail are also dusky black, 
edged Avith reddish, the latter a good deal forked ; round the base of the 
bill, the recumbent feathers are of a light clay or cream color ; belly 
and vent, white ; sides under the wings, streaked with dull reddish ; legs, 
a dirty purplish flesh color ; bill, short, strong, conical, and of a dusky 
horn color ; iris, dark hazel ; tlie feathers covering the ears are more 
dusky red than the other parts of the head. This is the male when 
arrived at its full colors. The female is nearly of the same size, of a 
brown olive or flaxen color, streaked with dusky black ; the head, seamed 
with lateral lines of whitish ; above and below the hind part of the 
ear- feathers, are two streaks of white ; the breast is whitish, streaked 
with a light flax color ; tail and wings, as in the male, only both edged 
with dull brown, instead of red ; belly and vent, white. This is also 
the color of the young during the first, and to at least the end of the 

* The present figTire is that of an adult male ; and that sex in the winter state is 
again figured and described in the second volume. (London edition.) Bonaparte 
has shown that Wilson is wrong in making the F. rosea of Pallas, and the Loxia 
erythriria of Gmelin, the same wiih his bird. Mr. Swainson reinarks, '' We are 
almost persuaded that there are two distinct species of these Purple Finches, which 
not only Wilson, but all the modern ornithologists of America, have confounded 
under the same name.'' We ma\ reasonably conclude, then, that another allied 
species may yet be discovered, and that pcrliaps Wilson was wrong regarding birds 
which he took for the F. rosea. 

F. purpurea and Pyrrhida frontalis of Say and Bonaparte will rank as a sub- 
genus in Pyrrhila, and, from the description of their habits, approach very near to 
both the Crossbills and Pine Grosbeaks. 

By Uic atteiilion of the Prince of Musignano, I have received his review of Cuvier's 
Rdgiie Ajiinial, and am now enabled to stale from it the opinion of that ornithologist 
regarding the station of these birds. lie agrees in the subordinate rank of the group, 
and its alliance to the Finches, Ikillfinches, and Coccotliraiistes or Hawthich, and 
proposes the subgeneric name of Enjtlirospiza, wiiich I have provisionally adopted, 
navmg Frin<rilla purpurea of Wilson as typical, and conia'm'mg Pyrrhula frontalis, 
Say and Bonap. ; P. ^thofrinea, Temm. PI. Col. ; Loxia Siberica, Falck. ; L. 
rosea, Pall.; L. erythnna,Va\\.; P. si/noira, Tcmm. PI. Col.; and /.. riilricUla, 
Lath. According to the list of species which he has mentioned, and which we have 
no present opportunity of comparing with the true type, the group will have a very 
extensive distribution over America. Europe, Asia, ami Africa. — Ed. 



i 



BROWN CREEPER. 81 

second season, when the males begin to become lighter yellowish, 
which gradually brightens to crimson ; tlie female always retains 
nearly the same appearance. The young male bird of the first year 
may be distinguished from the female by the tail of the former being 
edged with olive green, that of the latter witli brown. A male of one 
of these birds, which I kept for some time, changed in the month of 
October from red to greenish yellow, but died before it recovered its 
former color. 



BROWN CREEPER. — CERTHIA FAMILIARIS. — Fig. 29. 

Little Brown Variegated Creeper, Bartrain, 289. — Peak's Museum, No. 2434. 

CERTHIA FAJMILMRlS.—'Livtis.ns. 

Cerlhia familiaris, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. 469. Bonap. Synop. p. 95. — The Creeper, 
Beivick, Brit. Birds, i. p. 148. — Le Grimpereau, Teirtm. Man. i. p. 410. — 
Common Creeper, Selbij 111. plate 39, vol. i. p. 116. 

This bird agrees so nearly with the Common European Creeper, 
{Cerihiafamiliaris,) that I have little doubt of their being one and the 
same species.* I have examined, at different times, great numbers of 
these birds, and have endeavored to make a connect drawing of the 
male, that Europeans and others may judge for themselves; and the 
excellent artist to whom the plate was intrusted has done his part so 
well in the engraving, as to render the figure a perfect resemblance 
of the living original. 

The Brown Creeper is an extremely active and restless little bird. 
In winter it associates with the small Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, 
Titmouse, &c. ; and often follows in their rear, gleaning up those 

* I have compared numerous British specimens with skins from North America, 
and can find no differences that will entitle a separation of species. In this country 
they are very abundant, more so apparently in winter, so that we either receive a 

freat accession from the more northern parts of Europe, or the colder season and 
iminished supply of food draws them from their woody solitudes nearer to the 
habitations of man. It is often said to be rare — an opinion no doubt arising' from 
the difficulty of seeing it, and from its solitary and unassuming" manners. A short 
quotation from a late author will best explain our meaning, and confirm the account 
of its manners, so correctly described above. " A retired inhabitant of the woods 
and groves, and not in anyway conspicuous for voice or plumage, it passes its days 
with us. creating scarcely any notice or attention. Its small size, and the manner 
in which it procures its food, both tend to secrete him from sight. In these pursuits 
its actions are more like those of a mouse than of a bird, darting like a great moth 
from tree to tree, uUering a faint, trilling sound as it fixes on their boles, running, 
round them in a spiral direction, when, with repeated wriggles, having gained the 
summit, it darts to the base of another, and commences agam." 

The present species will form the type and only individual yet discovered of the 
genus Certhia. The other birds described by our author as Certhice, will all rank 
elsewhere ; and the groups now known under the titles Cinyris, JSectarinia, •fee, 
which were formerly included, making it of great extent, and certainly of very varied 
forms, will also with propriety hold their separate stations. The solitary type ranges 
in Europe, according to Pennant, as far north as Russia and Siberia, and Sandmore 
in Sweden. In North America, it will extend nearly over the whole contineut. 
— Ed. 



82 BROWN CREEPER. 

insects which their more powerful bills had alarmed and exposed ; 
for its own slender, incurvated bill seems unequal to the task of pen- 
etrating into even the decayed wood ; though it may into holes, and 
behind scales of the bark. Of tlie Titmouse, there are, generally, 
present the individuals of a whole family, and seldom more than one 
or two of the others. As the party advances through the woods from 
tree to tree, our little gleaner seems to observe a good deal of regu- 
larity in his proceedings ; for I have almost always observed that he 
alights on the body near the root of the tree, and directs his course, 
with great nimbleness, upwards, to the higher branches, sometimes 
spirally, often in a direct line, moving rapidly and uniformly along, 
with his tail bent to the tree, and not in the hopping manner of the 
Woodpecker, whom he far surpasses in dexterity of climbing, running 
along the lower side of the horizontal branches with surprising ease. 
If any person be near when he alights, he is sure to keep the opposite 
side of the tree, moving round as he moves, so as to prevent him from 
getting more than a transient glimpse of him. The best method of 
outwitting him, if you are alone, is, as soon as he alights, and disap- 
pears behind the trunk, take your stand behind an adjoining one, and 
keep a sharp look-out twenty or thirty feet up the body of the tree he 
is upon, — for he generally mounts very regularly to a considerable 
height, examining the whole way as he advances. In a minute or two, 
hearing all still, he will make his appearance on one side or other of 
the tree, and give you an opportunity of observing him. 

These birds are distributed over the whole United States, but are 
most numerous in the Western and Northern States, and particularly so 
in the depth of the forests, and in tracts of large timbered woods, where 
they usually breed, visiting the thicker settled parts of the country in 
full and winter. They are more abundant in the flat woods of the 
lower district of New Jersey than in Pennsylvania, and are frequently 
found among the pines. Though their customary food appears to con- 
sist of those insects of the coleopterous class, yet I have frequently 
found in their stomachs the seeds of the pine-tree, and fragments of a 
species of fungus that vegetates in old wood, with generally a large 
proportion of gravel. There seems to be scarcely any difference 
between the colors and markings of the male and female. In the 
month of March, I opened eleven of these birds, among whom were 
several females, as appeared by the clusters of minute eggs with 
which their ovaries were filled, and also several well-marked males ; 
and, on the most careful comparison of their plumage, I could find 
little or no difference ; the colors, indeed, were rather more vivid and 
intense in some than in others : but sometimes this superiority be- 
longed to a male, sometimes to a female, and appeared to be entirely 
owing to difference in age. I found, however, a remarkable and very 
striking difference in their sizes ; some were considerably larger, and 
had the bill, at least, one third longer and stronger tlian the others, 
and these I unifonnly found to be males. I also received two of these 
birds from the country bordering on the Cayuga Lake, in New York 
state, from a person who kilhul thoni from the tree in which tliey had 
their nest The male of tliis pair had the bill of the same extraordinary 
size with several others I had examined before ; the plumage in every 
respect the same. Other males, indeed, were found at tlie same time, 



BROWN CREEPER. . 83 

of the usual size. Whether this be only an accidental variety, or 
whether the male, when full grown, be naturally so much larger than 
the female, (as is the case with many birds,) and takes several years 
in arriving at his full size, I cannot positively determine, though I 
think the latter most probable. 

The Brown Creeper builds his nest in the hollow trunk or branch 
of a tree, where the tree has been shivered, or a limb broken off, or 
Avhere Squirrels or Woodpeckers have wrought out an entrance ; for 
nature has not provided him with tlie means of excavating one for him- 
self 1 have known the female begin to lay by the 17th of April. The 
eggs are usually seven, of a dull cinereous, marked with small dots of 
reddish yellow, and streaks of dark brown. The young come forth 
with great caution, creeping about long before they venture on wing. 
Prom the early season at which they begin to build, I have no doubts 
of their raising two broods during summer, as I have seen the old 
ones entering holes late in July. 

The length of this bird is five inches, and nearly seven from the 
extremity of one wing to that of the other ; the upper part of the head 
is of a deep brownish black ; the back brown, and both streaked with 
white, the plumage of the latter being of a loose texture, with its fil- 
aments not adhering ; the white is in the centre of every feather, and 
is skirted with brown ; lower part of the back, rump, and tail-coverts, 
rusty brown, the last minutely tipped with whitish ; the tail is as long 
as the body, of a light drab color, with the inner weh dusky, and con- 
sists of twelve quills, each sloping off and tapering to a point in the 
manner of the Woodpeckers, but proportionably weaker in the shafts ; 
in many specimens the tail was very slightly marked with transverse, 
undulating waves of dusky, scarce observable ; the two middle 
feathers the longest, the others on each side shortening, by one sixth 
of an inch, to the outer one ; the wing consists of nineteen feathers, 
the first an inch long, the fourth and fifth the longest, of a deep 
brownish black, and crossed about its middle with a curving band of 
rufous white, a quarter of an inch in breadth, marking ten of the 
quills ; below this the quills are exteriorly edged, to within a little of 
tlieir tips, with rufous Avhite, and tipped with white ; the three secon- 
daries next the body are dusky white on their inner webs, tipped on 
the exterior margin with white, and above that, alternately streaked 
laterally with black and dull white ; the greater and lesser wing-coverts 
are exteriorly tipped with white ; the upper part of the exterior edges 
of the former, rufous white ; the line over the eye, and whole lower 
parts, are white, a little brownish towards the vent, but, on the chin 
and throat, pure, silky, and glistening; the white curves inwards 
about the middle of the neck ; the bill is half an inch long, slender, 
compressed sidewise, bending downwards, tapering to a point, dusky 
above, and white below ; the nostrils are oblong, half covered with a 
convex membrane, and without hairs or small feathers ; the inside of 
the mouth is reddish ; the tongue tapering gradually to a point, and 
horny towards the tip ; the eye is dark hazel ; the legs and feet, a 
dirty clay color; the toes, placed three before and one behind, the two 
outer ones connected with the middle one to the first joint ; the claws 
rather paler, large, almost semicircular, and extremely sharp pointed ; 
the hind claw the largest 



84 GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN. 



GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN— SYLVIA REGULUS. — Fig. 30. 

Motacilla Regulus, Linn. Syst. i. 338, ^8. — Lath. Syn. \v. 508, 145. — Edw. 254. 
— Peale's Miismm, No. 7246. 

REQULUS REOULOIDES.* — J ARDisE. 

Regulus cristalus, Bonap. Synop. p. 91. — Female Golden-crowned Gold-Crest, 
Cont. of N. A. Om. i. pi. 2, p. 22. — Sylvia regnloides, Sw. MSS. 

This diminutive species is a frequent associate of the one last 
described, and seems to be almost a citizen of the world at large, 
having been found not only in North and South America, the West 
Indies, and Europe, but even in Africa and India. The specimen 

* The Gold-Crests, the Common Wrens, with an immense and varied host of spe- 
cies, were associated together in the genus Sylvia, until ornithologists began to look, 
not to the external characters in a limited view only, but in connection with the 
habits and affinities which invariably connect species together. Then many divis- 
ions were formed, and among these subordinate groups, Reguhis of Ray was pro- 
posed for this small but beautiful tribe. It was used by Stephens, the continuator 
of Shaw's Zoology, and by Bonaparte in his Si/nopsis of I\orth American Birds, 
and the first volume of his elegant Continuation of Wilson. Mr. Swainson makes 
this genus the typical form of the whole Syhnance, but designates it on that account 
under the title Sylvia. 1 have retained the old name of Regulus, on account of its 
former use by Ray, also from its having been adopted to this form by Stephens 
and }3onaparte, and lastly, as liable to create less confusion than the bringing for- 
wartl of an old name (though denoting the typical affinity of the typical group) 
which has been applied to so many different forms in the same family. 

Wilson was in error regarding the species here figured and the Common Gold- 
Crest of Europe being identical, and Bonaparte has fallen into the same mistake 
when figuring the female. Regulus CTnstatus is exclusively European. Reguh/s 
reguloiaes appears yet exclusively North American. Upon comparing the two 
species minutely together, I find the following variations : — Length of R. regn- 
loides, three inches seven eighths — of R. cristatus, from three inches antl a half to 
three inches six eighths. In R. cristatus the bill is longer and more dilated at the 
base, and the under parts of the body are more tinged with olive, — in R. regn- 
loides the orange part of the crest is much broader, and the black surrounding it, 
with the bar in front, broader and more distinct ; the white streak above the eye is 
also belter marked, and the nape of the neck has a pale ash-gray tinge, nearly 
wanting entirely in the British species.f 

This very hardy and active tribe, with one exception, inhabits the temperate and 
northern chmates, reaching even to the boundaries of the arctic circle. They are 
migratory in the more northern countries ; and though some species are able to 
brave our severest winters, others are no doubt obliged, by want of food and a lower 
degree of cold, to quit the rigors of northern latitudes. The species of our author 
performs migrations northward to breed ; and in Great Britain, at the commence- 
ment of winter, we have a regular accession to the numbers of our own Gold-Crest. 
If we examine their size, strength, and powers of flight, we must view the extent 
of their Journeys with aslonislnnent 5 they are indeed often so much exhausted, on 
their first arrival, as to be easily taken, and many sometimes even perish with the 
fatigue. A remarkable instance of a large migration is related by Mr. Selby, as 

I There is n curious structure in tlio covoring of the nostrils in most birds ; wliere there 
is any in addition to the liorny substance, it is romposed cither of fine bristles or hairs, or 
of narrow feathers closoly spread togoth(!r. In the Gold-Crests it consists of a single 
plumelet on each side, the webs diverging widely. 



GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN. 85 

from Europe, in Mr. Peale's collection, appears to be in nothing 
specifically different from tlie American ; and the very accurate 
description g-iven of this bird, by the Count de Buffbn, as^rees in every 
respect with ours. Here, as in Europe, it is a bird of passage, 
making its first appearance in Pennsylvania early in April, among 
the blossoms of the ma})le, often accoinpanied by the Ruby-crowned 
Wren, which, except in the markings of the head, it very much re- 
sembles. It is very frequent among evergreens, such as tiie pine, 
spruce, cedar, juniper, «fcc., and in the fall is generally found in com- 
pany with the two species of Titmouse, Brown Creeper, and small 
Spotted Woodpecker. It is an active, unsuspicious, and diligent 
little creature, climbing and hanging, occasionally, among the 
branches, and sometimes even on tlie body of the tree, in search of 
the larvae of insects attached to the leaves and stems, and various 

occurring' on the coast of Northumberland in 1822, when the sandhills and links were 
perfectly covered with them. 

'' On the 21th and 25th of October, 1822, after a very severe gale, with thick fog, 
from the north-east, (but veering, towards its conclusion, to the east and south of 
east.) thousands of these birds were seen to arrive upon the sea-shore and sanil- 
baiiks of the Northumbrian coast ; many of them so fatigued by the length of their 
flight, or perhaps by the unfavorable shift of wind, as to be unable to rise again 
from the ground, and great numbers were in consequence caught or destroyed, 
'i'his flight must have been immense in quantity, as its extent was traced through 
the whole length of the coasts of Northumberland and Durham. There appears 
little doubt of tiiis having been a migration from the more northern provinces of 
Europe, (probably furnished by the pme forests of Norway, Sweden, &c.,) from the 
circumstance of its arrival being simultaneous with that of large fliglits of the 
Woodcock, Fieldfare, and Redwing. Although 1 had never before witnessed the 
actual arrival of the Gold-crested Regulus, I had long felt convinced, from the great 
and sudden increase of the species during the autumnal and hyemal months, that 
our indigenous birds must be augmented by a body of strangers, making these shores 
their winter's resort. 

'' A more extraordinary circumstance in the economy of this bird took place 
during the same winter, [Mpnwirs of Wernerian Sociehj, vol. v. p. 397,) viz., the 
total disappearance of the whole tribe, natives as well as strangers, throughout 
Scotland and the north of England. This happened towards the conclusion of the 
month of January, 1823, and a few days previous to the long-continued snow-storm 
so severely felt through the northern counties of England, and along the eastern 
parts of Scotland. The range and point of this migration are unascertained, but it 
must probably have been a distant one, from the fact of not a single pair having 
returned to breed, or pass the succeeding summer, in the situations they had been 
known always to frequent. Nor was one of the species to be seen till the following 
October, or about the usual time, as I have above stated, for our receiving an an- 
nual accession of strangers to our own indigenous birds.'' 

They are chiefly, if not entirely, insectivorous, and very nimble and agile in search 
after their prey. They build their nests with great art, — that of this countrv has it 
usually suspend.ed near the extremity of a branch, and the outside beautifullv cov- 
ered with difi'erent mosses, generally similar to those growing upon the tree on 
which they build. In colors and the distribution of them, they closely agree, and 
all possess the beautiful golden crown, the well-known and admired mark of their 
common name. Our own island possesses only one, and though strong hopes have 
lately been raised of finding the second European species, R. ignicapiUus, our en- 
deavors have hitherto been unsuccessful. But I do not yet despair ; they are so 
closely allied that a very near inspection is necessary to determine the individuals. 

Mr. Audubon has described and figured a bird under the name of R. Cnrieni, 
which may prove an addition to this genus. Only a single specimen was procured 
in Pennsylvania, and the species will rest on Mr. Audubon's plate alone, until some 
others are obtained. The centre of the crest is described and represented of a rich 
vermilion. — Ed. 

8 



86 GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN. 

kinds of small flies, which it frequently seizes on wing. As it retires 
still farther north to breed, it is seldom seen in Pennsylvania from 
May to October ; but is then numerous in orchards, feeding among the 
leaves of the apple-trees, which, at that season, are infested with vast 
numbers of small, black-winged insects. Its chirp is feeble, not much 
louder than that of a mouse ; though, where it breeds, the male is said 
to have a variety of sprightly notes. It builds its nest frequently on 
the branches of an evergreen, covers it entirely round, leaving a small 
hole on one side for entrance, forming it outwardly of moss and 
lichens, and lining it warmly with down. The female lays six or 
eight eggs, pure white, with a few minute specks of dull red. Dr. 
Latham, on whose authority this is given, observes, " It seems to fre- 
quent the oak-trees in preference to all others. I have more than 
once seen a brood of these in a large oak, in the middle of a lawn, 
the whole little family of which, as soon as able, M-ere in perpetual 
motion, and gave great pleasure to many who viewed them. The 
nest of one of these has also been made in a garden on a fir-tree ; it 
was composed of moss, the opening on one side, in shape roundish ; 
it was lined with a downy substance, fixed with small filaments. It 
is said to sing very melodiously, very like the Common Wren, but 
weaker."* In Pennsylvania, they continue with us from October to 
December, and sometimes to January. 

The Golden-crested Wren is four inches long, and six inches and 
a half in extent ; back, a fine yellow olive ; hind head and sides of the 
neck, inclining to ash ; a line of white passes round the frontlet, ex- 
tending over and beyond the eye on each side ; above this, another 
line or strip of deep black passes in the same manner, extending 
farther behind ; between these two strips of black, lies a bed of 
glossy golden yellow, which, being parted a little, exposes another of 
a bright flame color, extending over the whole upper part of the head ; 
Avhen the little warbler flits among the branches, in pursuit of insects, 
he opens and shuts this golden ornament with great adroitness, which 
produces a striking and elegant effect ; lores, marked with circular 
points of black ; below the eye is a rounding spot of dull white ; 
from the upper mandible to the bottom of the ear-feathers runs a line 
of black, accompanied by another of white, from the lower mandible ; 
breast, light cream color ; sides under the wings, and vent, the same ; 
wings, dusky, edged exteriorly with yellow olive; greater wing- 
coverts, tipped with white, immediately below which, a spot of black 
extends over several of the secondaries ; tail, pretty long, forked, 
dusky, exterior vanes broadly edged with yellow olive ; legs, brown ; 
feet and claws, yellow ; bill, black, slender, straight, evidently of the 
Muscicapa fonn, the upper mandible being notched at the point, and 
furnished at the base with bristles, that reach half way to its point ; 
but, what seems singular and peculiar to this little bird, tlie nostril on 
each side is covered by a single feather, tliat much resembles the 
antennae of some butterflies, and is half the length of the bill. 
Buffon has taken notice of the same in tlie European. Inside of the 
mouth, a reddish orange ; claws, extremely sharp, the hind one the 
longest In the female, the tints and markings are nearly tlie same, 

* Si/tio^jsis, n. 509. 



HOUSE WREN. 87 

only the crown or crest is pale yellow. These birds are numerous 
in Pennsylvania, in the month of October, frequenting bushes that 
overhang streams of water, alders, briers, and particularly apple-trees, 
where they are eminently useful in destroying great numbers of 
insects, and are at that season extremely fat. 



HOUSE WREN. — SYLVIA DOMESTICA.— Fig. 31. 

Motacilla domestica, (Regulus rufus,) Bartram, 291. — Peale's Museum, No. 7283. 

TROGLODYTES ffiZ)OJV. — Vieillot. 

Troglodytes oedon, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 93, and note p. 439. — Northern Zool. ii. 
p. 316. — The House Wren, Aud. pi. 83. Orn. Biog. i. 427. 

This well-known and familiar bird arrives in Pennsylvania about 
the middle of April, and, about the 8th or 10th of May, begins to 
build its nest, sometimes in the wooden cornice under the eaves, or in 
a hollow cherry-tree ; but most commonly in small boxes, fixed on the 
top of a pole, in or near the garden, to which he is extremely partial, 
for the great number of caterpillars and other larvae with which it 
constantly supplies him. If all these conveniences arc wanting, he 
will even put up with an old hat, nailed on the weather boards, with a 
small hole for entrance ; and, if even this be denied him, he will find 
some hole, corner, or crevice about the house, barn, or stable, rather 
than abandon the dwellings of man. In the month of June, a mower 
hung up his coat under a shed, near a barn; two or three days 
elapsed before he had occasion to put it on again ; thrusting his arm 
up the sleeve, he found it completely filled with some rubbish, as he 
expressed it, and, on extracting the whole mass, found it to be the 
nest of a wren completely finished, and lined with a large quantity 
of feathers. In his retreat, he was followed by the little forlorn pro- 
prietors, who scolded him with great vehemence for thus ruining the 
whole economy of their household affairs. The twigs with which the 
outward parts of the nest are constructed are short and crooked, that 
they may the better hook in with one another, and the hole or 
entrance is so much shut up, to prevent the intrusion of snakes or 
cats, that it appears almost impossible the body of the bird could be 
admitted ; within this is a layer of fine dried stalks of grass, and 
lastly feathers. The eggs are six or seven, and sometimes nine, of a 
red purplish flesh color, innumerable fine grains of that tint being 
thickly sprinkled over the whole egg. They generally raise two 
broods in a season ; the first about the beginning of June, tlie second 
in July.* 

* The Wrens figured on this plate, and, indeed, all those of this northern con- 
tinent, seem to be great favorites with the country people, to which distinction, 
their utility in gardens in destroying caterpillars and noxious insects, their sprio^^htly, 
social manner, with their clean and neat appearance, fully entitle them. They 



88 HOUSE WREN. 

This little bird has a strong antipathy to cats ; for, having frequent 
occasion to glean among the currant bushes, and other shrubbery in 
the garden, those lurking enemies of the feathered race often prove 
fatal to him. A box fitted up in the window of the room where I 
slept, was taken possession of by a pair of Wrens. Already the nest 
was built, and tAvo eggs laid, when one day, the window being open, 
as well as the room door, the female Wren, venturing too far into the 
room to reconnoitre, was sprung upon by Grimalkin, who had planted 
herself there for tlie purpose, and, before relief could be given, was 
destroyed. Curious to see how the survivor would demean himself, I 

form the g-enus Troglodutes of moderns, are limited in numbers, but distributed 
over Europe, America, and Africa ; their habits are nearly alike, and the colors of 
the plumage are so similar, that some species are with difficulty distinguished from 
each other 3 and both those now figured have been confounded with that of this coun- 
try, from which, however, tlie first dithers, and the latter is still doubtful. The colors 
of the plumage are brown, with bars and crossings of darker shades, intermingled 
occasionally with spots, and irregular blotches of yellowish white. They make 
very commodious nests, with a single entrance ; all those wth which we are ac- 
quainted are very prolilic, breed more than once in the year, and lay at a time from 
twelve to sixteen eg^gs 3 they are always to be met with, but never in such profusion 
as their numerous broods would lead us to infer if all arrived at maturity. That 
of this country, though not so tame as to make use of a ready-made convenient 
breeding-place, is extremely familiar, and will build close by a window, or above a 
door, where there is a constant thoroughfare. It roosts, during the night, in holes 
of banks, ricks, or in the eaves of thatched houses, and generally seven or eight 
iiidividuals will occupy one hole, flitting about, and disputing, as it were, which 
should enter first. These are beautiful provisions for their welfare, and the pro- 
portion of animal heat possessed necessarily by so small a bulk. Another curious 
puriicular in the economy of these little birds, is the many useless nests which are 
built, or, as they are sometimes called by boys, cock nests. These are never built 
so carefully, or in such private and recluse situations, as those intended for incubsi- 
tion, and are even sometimes left in an unfinished, half-built state. I have never 
been aJjle to satisfy myself whether they were the work of the male bird only, or 
of both conjointly 5 or to ascertain their use, whether really commenced with the 
view of breeding in them, or for roosting places. The generally-exposed situation 
in which they are placed, with the concealed spot chosen for those that have young, 
would arg-ue agamst the former, and the latter would, perhaps, require a greater 
reasoning power than most people would be willing to grant to this animal. They 
may, perhaps, be the first instinctive efforts of th§ young. Notwithstanding their 
small bulk, and lender-looking frame, they are very hardy, and brave the severest 
winters of this country 3 driven nearer to our houses from "the necessity of food, they 
seem to rejoice in a hard, clear frost, singing merrily on the top of some heap of 
brushwood, or sounding, in rapid succession, their note of alarm, when disturbed 
by any unwelcome visitor. A kilty hunt, in a snow storm, used to be a favorite 
amusement with boys 5 and many a tumble was got in the unseen ruggedness of 
the ground when in pursuit. At any time when annoyed, a hole, or thick heap of 
sticks, will form a refuge for this curious little bird, where it will either remain quiet 
until the daiiijer is over, or, if there is any under way, will creep and run, escaping 
at another side ; in like manner, it will duck and dive in the openings or hollows 
of the snow, and at the moment when capture seems inevitable, will escape at some 
distant opening, tlisappointing the hopes of the urchin who already anticipated 
possession. 

We must here mention, in addition to the already-described North American 
species, one figured by Mr. Audubon, and dedicated to an artist, who will be long 
remembered by the British ornithologist. Trog/odijtes Betcickii. Mr. Audubon has 
killed three specimens of it in Louisiana, and observes, " In shape, form, color, 
and movements, it nearly resembles the great Carolina Wren, and forms a kind ot 
link between that bird and the House Wren. It has not tlie quickness of motion, 
nor the liveliness of eitlier of these birds." — Ed. 



HOUSE WREN. 89 

watched him carefully for several days. At first he sunj^ with great 
vivacity for an hour or so, but, becoming uneasy, went off for half an 
hour ; on his return, he chanted again as before, went to the top of the 
house, stable, and weeping- willow, that she might hear him ; but, 
seeing no appearance of her, he returned once more, visited the nest, 
ventured cautiously into the window, gazed about with suspicious 
looks, his voice sinking to a low, melancholy note, as he stretched his 
little neck about in every direction. Returning to the box, he seemed 
for some minutes at a loss what to do, and soon after went off, as I 
thought, altogether, for I saw him no more that day. Towards the 
afternoon of the second day, he again made his appearance, accom- 
panied with a new female, who seemed exceedingly timorous and shy, 
and who, after great hesitation, entered the box ; at this moment the 
little widower or bridegroom seemed as if he would warble out his 
very life with ecstasy of joy. After remaining about half a minute in, 
they both flew off, but returned in a few minutes, and instantly began 
to carry out the eggs, feathers, and some of the sticks, supplying the 
place of the two latter with materials of the same sort, and ultimately 
succeeded in raising a brood of seven young, all of which escaped in 
safety. 

The immense number of insects which this sociable little bird 
removes from the garden and fruit-trees, ought to endear him to every 
cultivator, even if he had nothing else to recommend him; but his 
notes, loud, sprightly, ti%mulous, and repeated every few seconds 
with great animation, are extremely agreeable. In the heat of sum- 
mer, families in the country often dine under the piazza adjoining 
green canopies of mantling grape vines, gourds, &c., while overhead 
the trilling vivacity of the Wren, mingled with the warbling mimicry 
of the Mocking Bird, and the distant, softened sounds of numerous 
other songsters, that we shall hereafter introduce to the reader's 
acquaintance, form a soul-soothing and almost heavenly music, 
breathing peace, innocence, and rural repose. The European who 
judges of the song of this species by that of his own Wren, [M. trog- 
lodytes,) will do injustice to the former, as, in strength of tone and 
execution, it is far superior, as well as the bird is in size, figure, and 
elegance of markings, to the European one. Its manners are also 
different; its sociability greater. It is no underground inliabitant; 
its nest is differently constructed, the number of its eggs fewer ; it is 
also migratory, and has the tail and bill much longer. Its food is 
insects and caterpillars, and, while supplying the wants of its young, 
it destroys, on a moderate calculation, many hundreds a day, and 
greatly circumscribes the ravages of these vermin. It is a bold and 
insolent bird against those of the Titmouse and Woodpecker kind 
that venture to build within its jurisdiction; attacking tliem without 
hesitation, though twice its size, and generally forcing them to de- 
camp. I have known him drive a pair of Swallows from their newly- 
formed nest, and take immediate possession of the premises, in which 
his female also laid her eggs, and reared her young. Even the Blue- 
Bird, who claims an equal and sort of hereditary right to the box in 
the garden, when attacked by this little impertinent, soon relinquishes 
the contest, the mild placidness of his disposition not being a match 



90 HOUSE WREN. 

for the fiery impetuosity of his little antagonist. With those of his 
own species who settle and build near him, he has frequent squabbles ; 
and when their respective females are sitting, each strains his whole 
powers of song to excel the other. When the young are hatched, the 
hurry and press of business leave no time for disputing, so true it is 
tliat idleness is the mother of mischief These birds are not confined 
to the country ; they are to be heard on the tops of the houses in the 
most central parts of our cities, singing with great energy. Scarce 
a house or cottage in the country is without at least a pair of them, 
and sometimes two ; but unless where there is a large garden, orchard, 
and numerous outhouses, it is not often the case that more than one 
pair reside near the same spot, owing to their party disputes and 
jealousies. It has been said by a friend to this little bird, that "the 
esculent vegetables of a whole garden may, perhaps, be preserved 
from the depredations of different species of insects, by ten or fifteen 
pair of these small birds ; " * and probably they might, were the com- 
bination practicable ; but such a congregation of Wrens about one 
garden is a phenomenon not to be expected but from a total change 
in the very nature and disposition of the species. 

Having seen no accurate description of this bird in any European 
publication, I have confined my references to Mr. Bartram and Mr. 
Peale ; but though Europeans are not ignorant of the existence of 
this bird, they have considered it, as usual, merely as a slight variation 
from the original stock, [M. troglodytes,) th#ir own Wren ; in which 
they are, as usual, mistaken ; the length and bent form of the bill, its 
notes, migratory habits, long tail, and red eggs, are sufficient specific 
differences. 

The House Wren inhabits the whole of the United States, in all 
of which it is migratory. It leaves Pennsylvania in September; I 
have sometimes, though rarely, seen it in the beginning of October. 
It is four inches and a half long, and five and three quarters in extent, 
the whole upper parts of a deep brown, transversely crossed with 
black, except the head and neck, Avhich is plain ; throat, breast, and 
cheeks, light clay color ; belly and vent, mottled with black, brown, 
and white ; tail, long, cuneifonn, crossed witli black ; legs and feet, 
light clay color , bill, black, long, slightly curved, sharp pointed, and 
resembling that of the genus Certhia, considerably ; the whole plu- 
mage below the surface is bluish ash ; tliat on the rump having large, 
round spots of white, not perceivable unless separated with the hand. 
The female differs very little in plumage from the male. 

* Barton's Fragments, part i. p. 22. 



BLACK-CAPPED TITMOUSE. 91 



BLACK-CAPPED TITMOUSE. — PARUS ATRICAPILLUS. — 
Fig. 32. 

Parus atricapillus, Linn. Syst. i. 341, 6. — Gtnel. Syst. i. 1008. — La Mesang-e a 
tete noire de Canada, Buffon, v. 408. — Canada Titmouse, Arct. Zool. ii. No. 
328. — Lath. Sijn. iv. 542, d. — Peak's Museum, No. 7380. 

PARUS ATRICAPILLUS. — Linn^us,* 

Parus atricapillus, Bonap. Synop. p. 100. — North. Zool. p. 226. 

This is one of bur resident birds, active, noisy, and restless ; hardy 
beyond any of his size, braving the severest cold of our continent as 
far north as the country round Hudson's Bay, and always appearing 
most lively in the coldest weather. The males have a variety of very 
sprightly notes, which cannot, indeed, be called a song, but rather a 
lively, frequently repeated, and often varied twitter. They are most 
usually seen during the fall and winter, when they leave the depths 
of the woods, and approach nearer to the scenes of cultivation. At 
such seasons, they abound among evergreens, feeding on the seeds of 
the pine-tree ; they are also fond of sunflower seeds, and associate in 
parties of six, eight, or more, attended by the two species of Nuthatch 
already described, the Crested Titmouse, Brown Creeper, and small 
Spotted Woodpecker ; the whole forming a very nimble and restless 
company, whose food, manners, and dispositions are pretty much alike. 
About tiie middle of April they begin to build, choosing the deserted 
hole of a Squirrel or Woodpecker, and sometimes, with incredible la- 
bor, digging out one for themselves. The female lays six white eggs, 
marked with minute specks of red ; the first brood appear about the 
beginning of June, and the second towards the end of July ; the whole 
of the family continue to associate together during winter. They 
traverse the woods in regular progression, from tree to tree, tumbling, 
chattering, and hanging from the extremities of the branches, examin- 
ing about the roots of the leaves, buds, and crevices of the bark, for 
insects and their larvae. They also frequently visit the orchards, 
particularly in fall, the sides of the barn and barn yard, in the same 
pursuit, trees in such situations being generally much infested with 
insects. We, therefore, with pleasure, rank this little bird among the 
farmer's friends, and trust our rural citizens Avill always recognize him 
as such. 

This species has a very extensive range ; it has been found on the 
western coast of America^ as far north as lat. 62° ; it is common at 
Hudson's Bay, and most plentiful there during winter, as it then ap- 
proaches the settlements in quest of food. Protected by a remarkably 
thick covering of long, soft, downy plumage, it braves the severest 
cold of those northern regions. 

* This is very closely allied to the Panis palustris, the Marsh Titmouse of Eu- 
rope ; but it is exclusively American, and ranges extensively to the north. The 
authors of the Northern Zoology mention them as one of the most common birds in 
the Fur countries j a family inhabits almost every thicket. — Ed. 



92 CRESTED TITMOUSE. 

The Black-capped Titmouse is five inches and a half in length, and six 
and a half in extent ; throat, and whole upper part of the head and 
ridge of the neck, black ; between these lines a triangular patch of 
white, ending at the nostril ; bill, black and short ; tongue, truncate ; 
rest of the upper parts, lead colored or cinereous, slightly tinged with 
brown ; wings, edged with white ; breast, belly, and vent, yellowish 
white ; legs, light blue ; eyes, dark hazel. The male and female are 
nearly alike. The Fig. 32, in the plate, renders any further descrip- 
tion unnecessary. 

The upper parts of the head of the young are for some time of a 
dirty brownish tinge ; and in this state they agree so exactly with tlie 
Parus Hudsonicus* described by Latham, as to afford good grounds 
for suspecting them to be the same. 

These birds sometimes fight violently with each other, and are 
known to attack young and sickly birds, that are incapable of resist- 
ance, always directing their blows against the skull.f Being in the 
woods one day, I followed a bird for some time, the singularity of 
whose notes surprised me. Having shot him from off the top of a very 
tall tree, I found it to be the Black-lieaded Titmouse, with a long and 
deep indentation in the cranium, tlie skull having been evidently, at 
some former time, drove in and fractured, but was now perfectly healed. 
Whether or not the change of voice could be owing to this circum- 
stance, I cannot pretend to decide. 



CRESTED TITMOUSE. — PARUS BICOLOR. — Fig. 33. 

Parus bicolor, Linn. Syst. i. 544, 1. — La Mesang;e huppee de la Caroline, Buff. v. 
451. — Toupet Titmouse, Arct. Zool. i. No. 324. — Zai/i. Syn. iv. 544, 11.— 
Peak's Museum, No. 73G4. 

PARUS BICOLOR. — hi^rtxvs. 

Parus bicolor, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 100. — The Crested Titmouse, Atid. pi. 39. Om. 
Biog. i. p. 198. 

This is another associate of the preceding species, but more noisy, 
more musical, and more suspicious, thougli rather less active. It is, 
nevertheless, a sprightly bird, possessing a remarkable variety in the 
tones of its voice, at one time not much louder than the squeaking of 
a mouse, and a moment after whistling aloud, and clearly, as if calling 
a dog ; and continuing this dog-call through the woods for half an 
hour at a time. Its high, pointed crest, or, as Pennant calls it, toupet, 

* Hudson Bay Titmouse, Si/nopsis, ii. 557. 

t I have fretiuently hoard tins staled rofjardinoc the British Titmice, particularly 
tlie Greater, but 1 have never been able to trace it to any authentic source j it 
is perhaps exagf^erated. Feedinp^ on carrion, which thev have also been repre- 
sented to do, must in a wild state be from necessity. Mr. Audubon asserts it as a 
fact, with regard to the J*, bicolor. Mr. Selby has seen P. major eat voung birds. 
— Ed. 



CRESTED TITMOUSE. 93 

g-ives it a smart and not inelegant appearance. Its food corresponds 
with tliat of tlie foreg'oino; ; it possesses considerable strength in the 
muscles of its neck, and is almost perpetually digging into acorns, nuts, 
crevices, and rotten parts of the bark, after the larvte of insects. It is 
also a constant resident here. When shot at and wounded, it fights 
with great spirit. When conlined to a cage, it soon becomes familiar, 
and will subsist on hemp seed, cherry stones, apple seeds, and hickory 
n.uts, broken and thrown hito it. However, if the cat^e be made of 
willows, and the bird not much hurt, he will soon make his way through 
them. The great concavity of the lower side of the wings and tail of 
this genus of birds, is a strong characteristic, and well suited to their 
short, irregular flight 

This species is also found over the Avhole United States, but is 
most numerous towards the north. It extends also to Hudson's Bay, 
and, according to Latham, is found in Denmark, and in the southern 
parts of Greenland, where it is called Avingarsak. If so, it probably 
inhabits the continent of North America, from sea to sea. 

The Crested Titmouse is six inches long, and seven inches and a 
iialf in extent The whole upper parts, a dull cinereous or lead color, 
except the ft-ont, which is black, tinged with reddish; whole lower 
parts, dirty Avhite, except the sides under the wings, which are reddish 
orange ; legs and feet, light blue ; bill, black, short, and pretty strong ; 
wing-feathers, relieved with dusky on their inner vanes ; eye, dark 
hazel ; lores, white ; the head, elegantly ornamented with a high, 
pointed, almost upright crest ; tail, a little forked, considerably con- 
cave below, and of the same color above as the back ; tips of the wings, 
dusky ; tongue, very short, truncate, and ending in three or four sharp 
points. The female cannot be distinguished from the male -by her 
plumage, unless in its being something duller, for both are equally 
marked with reddish orange on the sides under the wings, which some 
foreigners have made the distinguishing mark of the male alone. 

The nest is built in a hollow tree, the cavity often dug by itself; 
the female begins to lay early in May ; the eggs are usually six, pure 
white, with a few very small specks of red near the great end. The 
whole family, in the month of July, hunt together, the parents keeping 
up a continual chatter, as if haranguing and directing their inexpe- 
rienced brood.* 

* This beautiful and aUractive race of birds, the genuine Titmice, have a geo- 
graphical distribution over the whole world, — South America, New Holland, and 
the islands in the South Pacific Ocean, excepted. In the latter countries, they seem 
represented by the genus Pardalotus, yet, however, very limited in numbers. They 
are more numerous in temperate and even northern climates, than near the tropics j 
the greater numbers, both as to individuals and species, extend over Europe. 
In this country, when the want of foliage allows us to examine their manners, 
they form one of the most interesting of our winter visitants. I call them visitants 
only ; for during summer they are occupied with the duties of incubation in retire- 
ment, amid the depths of the most solitary forests, and only at the commencement 
of winter, or during its rigors, become more domesticated, and flock in small parties, 
the amount of their broods, to our gardens, and the \'icinity of our houses ; several 
species together, and generally in company with the Gold-crested Wrens. The 
activity of their motions in search of food, or in dispute with one another ; the va- 
riety of their cries, from something very shrill ana timid, to loud and wild ; their 
sometimes elegant, sometimes grotesque attitudes, contrasted by the difference of 
form 5 and the varied flights, from the short dart and jerk of the Marsh and Cole 



94 WINTER WREN. 

WINTER WREN. — SYLVIA TROGLODYTES. — Fig. 34. 

Motacilla troglodytes ? Linn. — Peak's Museum. No. 7284 

TROGLODYTES HYEJMLIS 1 — Yieillot. 

Trog-lodytes Europeus Leacli^ Bonap. Synop. p. 93. — Troglodytes hvemalis, 
Vieilt. Enajc. 3Mh. ii. p. 470. — North. Zool. ii. p. 318. 

This little stranger visits us from the north in the month of October, 
sometimes remaining with us all the winter, and is always observed, 
early in spring, on his route back to his breeding-place. In size, 
color, song, and manners, he approaches nearer to the European Wren 

Titmouse, or Gold-crested Wren, to the stringy successive line of the Long-tailed 
one, — are objects which have, no doubt, culled forth the notice of the ornithologist 
who has sometimes allowed himself to examine them in their natural abodes. I'he 
form of the different species is nearly alike 3 thick-set, stout, and short, the legs 
comparatively strong, the whole formed for active motion, and uniting sUcngth ior 
the rfmoval of loose bark, moss, or even rotten wood, in search of ilicir favorite 
food, insects 5 it, however, varies in two species of this country, (one of which will 
form a separate subdivision,) the Long-tailed and the Bearded Titmice, [P . raiidatus 
and biarmicus,) in the weaker frame and more lengthened shape of the tail ; and it 
may be remarked, that both these make suspended nests, the one in woods, of a 
lengthened form and beautiful workmanship, generally hung near the extremity of 
a branch belonging to some thick silver, spruce, or Scotch fir; the other balanced 
and waving among reeds, like some of the aquatic Warblers ; while all the other 
species, and indeed all those abroad with whole nidincation I am acquainted, choose 
some hollow tree or rent wall, for their place of breeding. In a Brazilian species, 
figured by Temminck, the tail assumes a forked shape. 

Insects are not their only food, though perhaps the most natural. When the sea- 
son becomes too inclement for this supply, they become granivorous, and will 
plunder the farm yards, or eat grain and potatoes with the poultry and pigs. Some 
I have seen so domesticated, (the common Blue and Greater Titmice,) as to come 
regularly during the storm to the windows, for crumbs of bread. When confined, 
they become very docile, and will also eat pieces of flesh or fat. During winter, 
they roost in holes of trees or walls, eaves of thatched houses, or hay and corn 
ricks. When not in holes, they remain suspended, with the back downwards or 
outwards. A common Blue Tomtit (and. I have no doubt, the same individual) has 
roosted for three years in the same spot, under one of the projecting capitals of a 
pillar, by the side of my own front door. The colors of the group are chaste and 
pleasing, as might have been expected from their distribution. There are, however, 
one or two exceptions in those figured by M. Temminck, from Africa. The gen- 
eral shades are black, gra}-^, white, blue, and difl'erent tints of olive, sometimes 
reddish brown ; and in these, when the brightest colors occur, the blue and yellow, 
they are so blended, as not to be hard or ofiensive. Most of the species have 
some decided marks or coloring about the head, and the phnnage is thick and 
downy, and loose — a very necessary requisite to those which frequent the more 
northern latitudes. 

Mr. Audubon says that this species sometimes forms a nest, by digging a hole 
for the purpose in the hardest wood with great industry and perseverance, although 
it is more mviuently contented with the hole of the Downy Woodpecker, or some 
other small bird of that geinis. We can hardly conceive that the Crestetl Titmouse, 
or indeed any of the race, had suflicient strength to dig its own nest. The bill, 
though very powerful, when compared with the individual's bulk, is not formed on 
the principle of those whicii excavate for themselves. I lately received the nest of 
this species, taken from some hollow tree. The inside lining was almost entirely 
composed of the scales and cast-ofl' exuvia of snakes. — Ed. 



WINTER WREN. 95 

(M. troglodytes) than any other species we have. During his residence 
here, he frequents the projecting banks of creeks, old roots, decayed 
logs, small bushes, and rushes near watery places ; he even approaches 
the farm-house, rambles about the wood pile, creeping among the in- 
terstices like a mouse. With tail erect, which is his constant habit, 
mounted on some projecting point or pinnacle, he sings with great 
animation. Even in tlie yards, gardens, and outhouses of the city, 
he appears familiar and quite at home. In short, he possesses almost 
all the habits of the European species. He is, however, migratory, 
which may be owing to the superior coldness of our continent. Never 
having met with the nest and eggs, I am unable to say how nearly 
they approximate to those of the former. 

I can find no precise description of this bird, as an American species, 
in any European publication. Even some of our own naturalists seem 
to have confounded it with another very different bird, the Marsh 
Wren,* which arrives in Pennsylvania from the south in May, builds 
a globular or pitcher-shaped nest, which it suspends among the rushes 
and bushes by the river side, lays five or six eggs of a dark fawn 
color, and departs again in September. But the colors and markings 
of that bird are very unlike those of the Winter Wren, and its song 
altogether different. The circumstance of the one arriving from the 
north as the other returns to the south, and vice vei'sa, with some gen- 
eral resemblance between the two, may have occasioned this mistake. 
They, however, not only breed in different regions, but belong to 
different genera, the Marsh Wren being decisively a species of Cer- 
thia, and the Winter Wren a true Motacilla. Indeed, we have no 
less than five species of these birds in Pennsylvania, that, by a super- 
ficial observ'er, would be taken for one and the same, but between each 
of which nature has drawn strong, discriminating, and indelible lines 
of separation. These will be pointed out in their proper places. 

If this bird, as some suppose, retires only to the upper regions of the 
country and mountainous forests to breed, as is the case with some 
others, it will account for his early and frequent residence along the 
Atlantic coast during the severest winters ; though I rather suspect 
that he proceeds considerably to the northward ; as the Snow Bird, 
{F. Hudsoni-a,) which arrives about the same time with the Winter 
Wren, does not even breed at Hudson's Bay, but passes that settle- 
ment in June, on his way to the northward ; how much farther is un- 
known. 

The length of the Winter Wren is three inches and a half, breadth, 
five inches ; the upper parts are of a general dark brown, crossed 
with transverse touches of black, except the upper parts of the head 
and neck, which are plain ; the black spots on the back terminate in 
minute points of dull white ; the first row of wing-coverts is also 
marked with specks of white at the extremities of the back, and 
tipped minutely with black ; the next row is tipped with points of 
white ; the primaries are crossed with alternate rows of black and 
cream color ; inner vanes of all the quills, dusky, except the three sec- 
ondaries next the body ; tips of the wings, dusky ; throat, line over the 

* See Professor Barton's observations on this subject, under the article Motacilla 
troglodytes ? Fragments, &lc. p. 18 3 Ibid. p. 12. 



96 RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. 

eye, sides of the neck, ear-feathers and breast, dirty white, with 
minute, transverse touches of a drab or clay color ; sides under the 
wings, speckled with dark brown, black, and dirty white ; belly and 
vent, thickly mottled with sooty black, deep brown, and pure white, in 
transverse touches ; tail, very short, consisting of twelve feathers, the 
exterior one on each side a quarter of an inch shorter, the rest length- 
ening- gradually to the middle ones ; legs and feet, a light clay color, 
and pretty stout ; bill, straight, slender, half an inch long, and not 
notched at the point, of a dark broAvn or black above, and whitish 
below ; nostril, oblong ; eye, light hazel. The female wants the 
points of white on the wing-coverts. The food of this bird is derived 
from that great magazine of so many of the feathered race, insects 
and their larv^se, particularly such as inhabit Avatery places, roots of 
bushes, and piles of old timber. 

It were much to be wished that the summer residence, nest, and 
eggs of this bird, were precisely ascertained, which would enable us 
to determine whether it be, what I strongly suspect it is, the same 
species as tlie common domestic Wren of Britain.* 



RED-HEADED WOODPECKER.— PICUS ERYTHROCE- 
PHALUS. — Fig. 35. 

Picus erythrocephalus, Linn. Syst. i. 174, 7. — G7nel. Syst. i. 429. — Pic noir a do- 
mino rouge, Bnffon. vii. 55. PL enl. 117. — Catesby. \. 20. — Arct. Zool. ii. 
No. im. — Lath. Sy'n. ii. b^X. — Peak's iWiseum, No. 1922. 

MELAJ^TERPES ERYTHR0CEPHj9LUS. — SwAiNsoN.f 

Picus eryUirocephalus, Bonap. Synop. p. 45. — Wagler Spec. At\ Picus, No. 14. 
— The Red-headed Woodpecker, Aud. pi. 27 j Om. Biog. i. p. 141. — Me- 
lanerpes erytiirocephalus, IVorth. Zool. ii. p. 316. 

There is perhaps no bird in North America more universally known 
than this. His tricolored plumage, red, white, and black, glossed with 

* There is a very g-real alliance between the British and American specimens ; 
and all authors who have doscrihed this bird and that of Europe, have done so with 
uncertainty. Wilson evidently had a doubt, both from what he says, and from 
marking the species and his svnonymcs with a query. Vicillot had doubts, and 
Bonaparte goes a good deal on liis authority, but points out no diflerence between 
the birds. Air. Swainson, in the Northern Zoology, has described a bird, as that 
of Vieillot's, killed on the shores of Lake Huron, and proves distinctly that the 
plumage, and some of the relative proportions, vary. It is likely that there are two 
American species concerned in this, — one northern, another extending to the south, 
and that one perhaps may be identical with that of Europe ; one certainly seems 
distinct. I have retained hijemalis with a mark of doubt, it being impossible to 
determine those so closely allied, without an examination of numerous species. 
— Ed. 

t This will point out another of IMr. Swainson's groups amon^;- the Wood- 
peckers, equally distinct with C(>/(r/)/t'.<?. The form is long and swallow-like ; the 
bill more rounded than angular, the culmen quite round ; tlie wings nearly as long 
as the tail. In their maimers, they arc extremely familiar ; and during summer, 



RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. 97 

steel blue, is so striking and cliaracteristic, and his predatory habits 
in the orchards and corn-fields, added to liis numbers, and fondness for 
hovering along the fences, so very notorious, that almost every child 
is acquainted with the Red-headed Woodpecker. In the immediate 
neighborhood of our large cities, where the old timber is chiefly cut 
down, he is not so frequently found ; and yet, at this present time, 
(June, 1808,) I know of several of their nests within tlie boundaries 
of the city of Philadelphia. Two of these are in buttonwood-trees 
[Platanus occidentalism) and another in the decayed limb of an elm. 
The old ones, I observe, make their excursions regularly to the woods 
beyond the Schuylkill, about a mile distant ; preserving great silence 
and circumspection in visiting their nests, — precautions not much 
attended to by them in the depth of the woods, because there the 
prying eye of man is less to be dreaded. Towards the mountains, 
particularly in the vicinity of creeks and rivers, these birds are ex- 
tremely abundant, especially in the latter end of summer. Wherever 
you travel in the interior at that season, you hear them screaming 
from the adjoining woods, rattling on the dead limbs of trees, or on 
the fences, v/here they are perpetually seen flitting from stake to 
stake, on the roadside, before you. Wherever there is a tree, or trees, 
of the wild cherry, covered with ripe fruit, there you see them busy 
among the branches ; and, in passing orchards, you may easily know 
where to find the earliest, sweetest apples, by observing those trees, 
on or near which the Red-headed Woodpecker is skulking ; for he is 
so excellent a connoisseur in fruit, that wherever an apple or pear is 
found broached by him, it is sure to be among the ripest and best 
flavored : when alarmed, he seizes a capital one by striking his open 
bill deep into it, and bears it off* to the woods. When the Indian 
corn is in its rich, succulent, milky state, he attacks it wdth great 
eagerness, opening a passage through the numerous folds of the husk, 
and feeding on it with voracity. The girdled, or deadened timber, so 
common among corn-fields in the back settlements, are his favorite 
retreats, whence he sallies out to make his depredations. He is fond 
of the ripe berries of the sour gum, and pays pretty regular visits to 
the cherry-trees, when loaded with fruit. Towards fall he often ap- 
proaches the barn or farm-house, and raps on the shingles and weather 
boards : he is of a gay and frolicsome disposition ; and half a dozen 
of the fraternity are frequently seen diving and vociferating around 
the high, dead limbs of some large tree, pursuing and playing with 
each other, and amusing the passenger with their gambols. Their 
note, or cry, is shrill and lively, and so much resembles that of a 
species of tree-frog which frequents the same tree, that it is some- 
times difficult to distinguish the one from the other. 

Such are the vicious traits, if I may so speak, in the character of 
the Red-headed Woodpecker ; and I doubt not but, from what has 
been said on this subject, that some readers would consider it merito- 
rious to exterminate the whole tribe as a nuisance ; and, in fact, the 
legislatures of some of our provinces, in former times, offered pre- 

feed almost entirely on the rich fruits and ripe grains of the country. The chaste 
and simple-colored Piais bicolur, from the minas Geraies, I believe, will be another 
representative of this form. — Ed. 
9 



98 RED-HEADED WOODPECI^R. 

miums to the amount of twopence per head for their destruction.* 
But let us not condemn the species unheard : they exist — they must 
therefore be necessary .f If their merits and usefulness be found, on 
examination, to preponderate against their vices, let us avail ourselves 
of the former, while we guard as well as we can against the latter. 

Though this bird occasionally regales himself on fruit, yet his 
natural and most useful food is insects, particularly those numerous and 
destructive species that penetrate the bark and body of the tree to 
deposit their eggs and larvse, the latter of which are well known to 
make immense havock. That insects are his natural food is evident 
from the construction of his wedge-fonned bill, the length, elasticity, 
and figure of his tongue, and the strength and position of his claws, 
as well as from his usual habit^. In fact, insects form at least two 
thirds of his subsistence ; and his stomach is scarcely ever found with- 
out them. He searches for them with a dexterity and intelligence, I 
may safely say, more than human : he perceives, by the exterior ap- 
pearance of the bark, where they lurk below ; when he is dubious, he 
rattles vehemently on the outside with his bill, and his acute ear dis- 
tinguishes the terrified vennin shrinking Avithin to their inmost retreats, 
M'here his pointed and barbed tongue soon reaches them. The masses 
of bugs, caterpillars, and other larsse, which I have taken from the 
stomachs of these birds, have often surprised me. These larvse, it 
should be remembered, feed not only on the buds, leaves, and blossoms, 
but on the very vegetable life of the tree, — the alburnum, or newly- 
forming bark and wood ; the consequence is, that the whole branches 
and whole trees decay under the silent ravages of these destructive 
vermin ; witness the late destruction of many hundred acres of pine- 

* Kalm. 

t The abundajice of this species must be very great, and from the depredations 
they commit, must be more felt. Mr. Audubon "says that a hundred have been shot, 
in one day, from a single cherry-tree. In addition to their other bad habits, they 
• arry ofl' apples by thrustins: in their bill as a spike, and thus supporting them. 
They also frequent pigecn-nouses, and suck the eggs, — a habit not very common 
among this tribe ; and, for the same purpose, enter the boxes prepared for the Mar- 
tins and Blue-Birds. AnotJier method of adding to their destruction, in Kentucky 
and the Southern States, is in the following manner related by Audubon : — 

•' As soon as the Red-heads have begmi to visit a cherry or apple-tree, a pole is 
placed along the trunk of the tree, passing up amongst the central branches, and 
€xtenduig six or seven feet above the highest twigs. The Woodpeckers alight by 
preference on the pole, and whilst their body is close to it, a man. standing at the 
foot of the pole, g^ives it a twist below with the head of an axe, on the opposite side 
to that on which the Woodpecker is, when, in consequence of the sudden vibration 
produced in the upper part, the bird is thrown off dead." 

A'Coording to tlie same gentleman, many of the Red-heads (a name by which 
they arc universally known) remain bi the southern districts of the United States 
during the whole winter. The greater number, however, pass to countries farther 
south. Their migration takes place during night, is commenced in the middle of 
September, and continues for a month or six weeks. They then fly high above the 
trees, far apart, like a disbanded army, propelling themselves by reiterated flaps 
of their wings at the end of each successive curve which they describe in their flight. 
The note which they emit at this time is diflerent from the usual one, sharp, and 
easily heard from the pound, although the birds maybe out of sight. At the dawn 
of day, the whole alight on the lops of the dead trees about the plantations, and re- 
main in search of food until (he approach of sunset, when tliey again, one aAer 
another, moiuit tlie air, and contimie tiieir journey. — Ed. 



RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. 99 

trees, in the north-eastern parts of South Carolina,* and the thousands 
of peach-trees that yearly decay from the same cause. Will any one 
say, that taking half a dozen, or half a hundred, apples from a tree, 
is equally ruinous with cutting it down ? or, that the services of a 
useful animal should not be rewarded with a small portion of that 
which it has contributed to preserve ? We are told, in the benevolent 
language of the Scriptures, not to muzzle the mouth of the ox that 
treadeth out the corn ; and why should not the same generous liberal- 
ity be extended to this useful family of birds, which forms so powerful 
a phalanx against the inroads of many millions of destructive vermin ? 

The Red-headed Woodpecker is, properly speaking, a bird of pas- 
sage ; though, even in the Eastern States, individuals are found during 
moderate winters, as well as in the states of New York and Pennsyl- 
vania ; in Carolina, they are somewhat more numerous during that 
season, but not one tenth of what are found in summer. They make 
their appearance in Pennsylvania about the 1st of May, and leave us 
about the middle of October. They inhabit from Canada to the Gulf 
of Mexico, and are also found on the western coast of North America. 
About the middle of May they begin to construct their nests, which, 
like the rest of the genus, they form in the body or large limbs of 
trees, taking in no materials, but smoothing it within to the proper 
shape and size. The female lays six eggs, of a pure white, and the 
young make their first appearance about the 20th of June. During 
the first season, the head and neck of the young birds are blackish 
gray, which has occasioned some European writers to mistake them 
for females ; the white on the wing is also spotted with black ; but in 
the succeeding spring they receive their perfect plumage, and the 
male and female then differ only in the latter being rather smaller, 
and its colors not quite so vivid ; both have the head and neck deep 
scarlet; the bill light blue, black towards the extremity, and strong; 
back, primaries, wing-coverts, and tail, black, glossed with steel blue ; 
rump, lower part of the back, secondaries, and whole under parts 
from the breast downward, white ; legs and feet, bluish green ; claws, 
light blue ; round the eye, a dusky narrow skin, bare of feathers ; iris, 
dark hazel; total length, nine inches and a half; extent, seventeen 
inches. The Fig. 35, on the plate, was drawn and colored from a 
very elegant living specimen. 

Notwithstanding the care which this bird, in common with the rest 
of its genus, takes to place its young beyond the reach of enemies, 
within the hollows of trees, yet there is one deadly foe, against whose 
depredations neither the height of the tree, nor the depth of the cavity, 
is the least security. This is the black snake, ( Coluber constrictor,) who 
frequently glides up the trunk of the tree, and, like a skulking savage, 
enters the Woodpecker's peaceful apartment, devours the eggs or 
helpless young, in spite of the cries and flutterings of the parents ; and, 
if the place be large enough, coils himself up in the spot they occu- 
pied, where he will sometimes remain for several days. The eager 
schoolboy, after hazarding his neck to reach the Woodpecker's hole, 

* In one place, on a tract of two thousand acres of pine land, on the Sampit 
River, near Georgetown, at least ninety trees in every hundred were destroyed by 
this pernicious insect, — a small, black-winged bug, resembling the weevil, but 
somewhat larger. 



100 YELLOW-BELLIED WOODrECKER. 

at tlie triumphant moment v. hen he thinks the nestling-s his own, and 
strips his arm, launching it down into the cavity, and grasping what he 
conceives to be the callow young, starts with horror at the sight of a 
hideous snake, and almost drops from his giddy pinnacle, retreating 
down the tree with terror and precipitation. Several adventures of 
tins kind have come to my knowledge ; and one of them was attended 
with serious consequences, where both snake and boy fell to the 
ground ; and a broken thigh, and long confinement, cured the adven- 
turer completely of his ambition for robbing Woodpeckers' nests. 



YELLOW-BELLIED WOODPECKER. — PICUS VARIUS. — 
Fig. 36. 

Picus varlus, Linn. Sijst. i. 176,20. — Gmel. Syst. i. 735. — Le pic varie de la 
Caroline. Bujf. vii. 77. Pl.enl. 785. — Yellow-bellied Woodpecker. Catesh. i. 2L 
— Arct. ZooL ii. No. \GG. — Lath. Syn. ii. 574, 20. Id. Sup. p. 109. ^Peale's 
Museum, No. 2004. 

DEJK-DROCOPUS y.dRIUS. — SYfAiysoti.* 

Picus varius, Bonap. Synop. p. 45. — Wagl. Syst. Av. Picus, No. 16. — Deudro- 
copus varius, North. Zool. ii. p. 309. 

This beautiful species is one of our resident birds. It visits our 
orchards in the month of October in great numbers, is occasionally 
seen during the Avhole winter and spring, but seems to seek the depths 
of the forest, to rear its young in ; for, during summer, it is rarely seen 
among our settlements ; and even in tlie intermediate woods, I have 
seldom met with it in that season. According to Brisson, it inhabits 
the continent from Cayenne to Virginia ; and I may add, as far as to 
Hudson's Bay, where, according to Hutchins, they are CB\]edi Meksewe 

* In this species, and the two following, the little Woodpecker of this country, 
and many others, we have the types of a sub-genus {Dendrocopns, Koch) among 
the Woodpeckers, which I have no hesitation in adopting, as containing a very 
marked group of black and white spotted birds, allied to confusion with each other. 
The genus is made use of, for the first time, in a British publication, the Northern 
Zoolosry, by Mr. Swainson, as the third sub-genus of Picus. He thus remarks : — 

" The third sub-genus comprehends all the smaller black and white spotted 
Woodpeckers of Europe and America. Some few occur in the mountainous parts 
of India 5 but, with these exceptions, the gronp, which is very extensive, seems to 
belong more particularly to temperate latitudes." 

" It was met with by the over-land expedition in flocks, on the banks of the Sas- 
katchewon, in May. Its manners, at that period of the year, were strikingly con- 
trasted will) those of the resident Woodpeckers ; for, instead of flitting in a solitary 
way, from tree to tree, and a.ssidnonsly boring for insects, it flew about in crowded 
flocks, in a restless manner, and kept up a continual chattering. Its geographical 
range is extensive, from the sixty-first paialltl of latitude, to Mexico." 

Mr. Swainson mentions having received a single s}>ecinien of a Woodpecker from 
Georgia, closely allied to this, whir-h he suspects to be undescribed ; and, in the 
event of being correct, he proposes to deilicalc it to IMr. Audubon, — Dendrocopus 
Audubonii, Sw. — Ed. 



YELLOW-BELLIED WOODPECKER. 101 

Paupastaoiv;* they are also common in tlie states of Kentucky and Ohio, 
and nave been seen in the neighborhood of St. Louis. They are reck- 
oned by Georgi among the birds tliat frequent the Lake Baikal, in 
Asia ; f but their existence there has not been satisfactorily ascertained. 

The habits of this species are similar to those of the Hairy and 
Downy Woodpeckers, with which it generally associates. The 
only nest of tliis bird which I have met with, was in the body of 
an old pear-tree, about ten or eleven feet from the ground. The 
hole was almost exactly circular, small for the size of the bird, so that 
it crept in and out witli difficulty ; but suddenly widened, descending 
by a small angle, and then running downward about fifteen inches. 
On the smooth, solid wood lay four white eggs. This was about the 
twenty-fifth of May. Having no opportunity of visiting it afterwards, 
I cannot say whether it added any more eggs to the number ; I rather 
think it did not, as it appeared at that time to be sitting. 

The Yellow-bellied Woodpecker is eight inches and a half long, and 
in extent fifteen inches ; whole crown, a rich and deep scarlet, bordered 
witli black on each side, and behind forming a slight crest, w^hich it 
frequently erects ; f from the nostrils, which are thickly covered with 
recumbent hairs, a narrow strip of white runs downward, curving round 
the breast ; mixing with the yellowish white on the lower part of the 
breast ; throat, the same deep scarlet as the crown, bordered with black, 
proceeding from the lower mandible on each side, and spreading into 
a broad, rounding patch on the breast ; this black, in birds of the first 
and second year, is dusky gray, tlie feathers being only crossed with 
circular touches of black ; a line of white, and below it another of 
black, proceed, the first from tlie upper part of the eye, the other from 
the posterior half of the eye, and both lose themselves on the neck 
and back ; back, dusky yellow, sprinkled and elegantly waved with 
black ; wings, black, with a large, oblong spot of white ; the primaries, 
tipped and spotted with white ; the three secondaries next the body 
are also variegated with white ; rump, white, bordered with black ; 
belly, yellow ; sides under the wings, more dusky yellow, marked with 
long arrow-heads of black ; legs and feet, greenish blue ; tail, black, 
consisting of ten feathers, the two outward feathers on each side 
tipped with white, the next totally black, the fourth edged on its inner 
vane half way down with white, the middle one wliite on its interior 
vane, and spotted with black ; tongue, flat, horny for half an inch at 
the tip, pointed, and armed along its sides with reflected barbs ; tha 
other extremities of the tongue pass up behind the skull in a groove, 
and end near the right nostril; in birds of the first and second year 
they reach only to the crown ; bill, an inch long, channeled, wedge- 
formed at the tip, and of a dusky horn color. The female is marked 
nearly as the male, but wants the scarlet on the throat, whicli is 
whitish ; she is also darker under the wings and on the sides of the 
breast The young of the first season, of both sexes, in October, have 
the crown sprinkled with black and deep scarlet ; the scarlet on the 
throat may be also observed in the young males. The principal food 
of these birds is insects ; and they seem particularly fond of frequent- 

* Latham. t Ibid. 

J This circumstance seems to have been overlooked b\' naturalists. 
9* 



102 HAIRY WOODPECKER. 

ing orchards, boring the trunks of the apple-trees in their eager 
search after them. On opening them, the liver appears very large, 
and of a dirty gamboge color ; the stomach strongly muscular, and 
generally filled with fragments of beetles and gravel. In the morning, 
they are extremely active in the orchards, and rather shyer than the 
rest of their associates. Their cry is also different, but, though it is 
easily distinguishable in the woods, cannot be described by words. 



HAIRY WOODPECKER. — PICUS VILLOSUS. — Fig. 37. 

Picus villosus, Linn. Sijst. i. 175, 16. — Pic chevelu de Virginie, Buffon, vii. 7. — 
Pic vari6 male de Virginie, PI. enl. 754. — Hairy Woodpecker, Catesb. i. 19, Fig-. 
^. — Arct. Zool. ii. No. 164. — Za</i. Syn. ii. 672, 18. Id. Sup. 108. — Peal^s 
Museum, No. 1988. 

DEJVDROCOPUS F/LZOSrS. — Swainsow. 

Picus villosus, Bonap. Synop. p. 46. — Wagl. Syst. Av. Picas, 22. — Dendrocopas 
villosus, North. Zool. ii. p. 305. 

This is another of our resident birds, and, like the former, a haunter 
of orchards, and borer of apple-trees, an eager hunter of insects, their 
eggs and larvte, in old stumps and old rails, in rotten branches and 
crevices of the bark ; having all the characters of tlie Woodpecker 
strongly marked. In the month of May he retires with his mate to 
the woods, and either seeks out a branch already hollow, or cuts out 
an opening for himself. In the former case I have known his nest 
more than five feet distant from the mouth of the hole ; and in the 
latter he digs first horizontally, if in the body of the tree, six or eight 
inches, and then downward, obtusely, for twice that distance ; carrying 
up the chips with his bill, and srraping them out with his feet They 
also not infrequently choose the orchard for breeding in, and even an 
old stake of the fence, which they excavate for this purpose. The 
female lays five white eggs, and hatches in June. This species is 
more numerous than the last in Pennsylvania, and more domestic ; 
frequently approaching the farm-house and skirts of the town. In 
Philadelphia I have many times observed them examining old ragged 
trunks of the willow and poplar while people were passing imme- 
diately below. Their cry is strong, shrill, and tremulous; they have 
also a single note, or chuck, which they often repeat, in an eager man- 
ner, as they hop about, and dig into the crevices of the tree. They 
inhabit tlio continent from Hudson's Bay to Carolina and Georgia. 

The Hairy Woodpecker is nine inches long, and fifteen in extent; 
crown, black ; line over and under the eye, Avhite ; the eye is placed 
in a black line, tiiat widens as it descends to the back ; hind head, 
scarlet, sometimes intermixed with black ; nostrils, hid under re- 
markably thick, bushy, recumbent hairs, or bristles ; under the bill 
are certain long hairs thrown forward and upward, as represented in 
Fig. 87; bill, a bluish iiorn color, grooved, wedged at the end, 



HAIRY WOODPECKER. 103 

straight, and about an inch and a quarter long ; touches of black, 
proceeding from the lower mandible, end in a broad black strip tiiat 
joins the black on the shoulder ; back, black, divided by a broad, 
lateral strip of white, the feathers composing which are loose and 
unwebbed, resembling hairs, — whence its name ; rump and shoulders 
of the wing, black; wings, black, tipped and spotted with Avhite, three 
rows of spots being visible on the secondaries, and five on the prima- 
ries ; greater wing-coverts, also spotted with white ; tail, as in the 
others, cuneiform, consisting of ten strong-shafted and pointed 
feathers, the four middle ones black, the next partially white, the two 
exterior ones Avhite, tinged at the tip with a brownish burnt color ; 
tail-coverts, black ; whole lower side, pure white ; legs, feet, and 
cla-ws, light blue, the latter remarkably large and strong; inside of the 
mouth, flesh colored ; tongue, pointed, beset with barbs, and capable 
of being protruded more than an inch and a half; the os hyoides, in 
this species, passes on each side of the neck, ascends the skull, passes 
down towards the nostril, and is wound round the bone of the right 
eye, which projects considerably more than the left for its accommoda- 
tion. The great mass of hairs, that cover the nostril, appears to be 
designed as a protection to the front of the head, when the bird is 
engaged in digging holes into the wood. The membrane which 
encloses the brain in this, as in all the other species of Woodpeckers, 
is also of extraordinary strength, no doubt to prevent any bad effects 
from violent concussion Avhile tlie bird is employed in digging for 
food. The female wants the red on the hind head ; and the white 
below is tinged with brownish. The manner of flight of these birds 
has been already described under a former species, as consisting of 
alternate risings and sinkings. The Hairy Woodpeckers generally 
utter a loud, tremulous scream as they set oflT, and when they aliglit. 
They are hard to kill ; and, like the Red-headed Woodpecker, hang- 
by the claws, even of a single foot, as long as a spark of life remains, 
before they drop. 

This species is common at Hudson's Bay, and has lately been found 
in England.* Dr. Latham examined a pair which were shot near 
Halifax, in Yorkshire ; and, on comparing the male with one brought 
from North America, could perceive no difference, but in a slight 
interruption of the red that marked the hind head of the former; a 
circumstance which I have frequently observed in our own. The two 
females corresponded exactly. 

* This, I believe, is a mistake; and although this bird is beg^inning' to creep into 
our fauna in the rank of an occasional visitant, I can find no authentic trace of 
tke Hairy Woodpecker bein^ ever killed in Great Britain. It is a bird belonging 
to a northern climate; and cillhough it closely resembles a native species, it can 
never be mistaken, with any ordinary examination or comparison. The Halifax in 
Yorkshire will turn out in reality the Halifax of the New World. — Ed. 



104 DOWNY WOODPECKER. 



DOWNY WOODPECKER. — PICUS PUBESCENS— Fig. 38. 

Picus pubescens, Linn. Sijst. i. 175, 15. — Gmel. Syst. \. 435. — Petit pic varie de 
Virginie, Buffon, vii. 76. — Smallest Woodpecker, Catesb. i. 21. — Arct. Zool. 
ii. No. 963. — Little Woodpecker, Lath. Synop. u. 573, 19. Id. Sup. 106.— 
Pejle's Museum, No. 1986. 

DEJ^DROCOPUS PUBESCEJ^S.—SyvAiysojf. 

Picus pubescens, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 4G. — Wagl. Syst. Av. Picus, No. 23. — Den- 
drocopus pubescens, North. Zool. ii. p. 307. 

This is the smallest of our Woodpeckers,* and so exactly resembles 
the former in its tints and markings, and in almost every thing except 
its diminutive size, tliat 1 wonder how it passed through the Count de 
BufFon's hands without being branded as a "spurious race, degenerated 
by the influence of food, climate, or some unknown cause." But, 
though it has escaped this infamy, charges of a much more heinous 
nature have been brought against it, not only by the writer above 
mentioned, but by the whole venerable body of zoologists in Europe, 
who have treated of its history, viz., that it is almost constantly boring 
and digging into apple-trees, and that it is the most destructive of its 
whole genus to the orchards. The first part of this charge I shall not 
pretend to deny ; how far the other is founded in truth will appear in 
the sequel. Like the two former species, it remains with us the whole 
year. About the middle of May, the male and female look out for a 
suitable place for the reception of their eggs and young. An. apple, 
pear, or cherry-tree, often in the near neighborhood of the farm-house, 
is generally fixed upon for this purpose. The tree is minutely recon- 
noitred for several days previous to the operation, and the work is 
first begun by the male, who cuts out a hole in the solid wood as cir- 
cular as if described with a pair of compasses. He is occasionally 
relieved by the female, both parties working with the most indefatigable 
diligence. The direction of the hole, if made in the body of the tree, 
is generally downwards, by an angle of thirty or forty degrees, for the 
distance of six or eight inches, and then straight down for ten or 
twelve more ; within, roomy, capacious, and as smooth as if polished by 
the cabinet-maker ; but the entrance is judiciously left just so large as 

* Tliis species, as Wilson observes, is the smallest of the American Woodpeckers, 
and it will fill the place in that country which is occupied in Europe and Great Brit- 
ain by the Finis minor, or Least Woodpecker; unlike the latter, however, it is both 
a!)undant, and is familiar in its manners. 

Mr. Swainson, in a note to the Northeivi Zoolofn/, thinks that several American 
species are confounded under this. " We have no doubt," he says, " that two, if 
not three, species of these little Woodpeckers, from ditTcrent parts of North America, 
have been confounded under the common name of piihescens." He proposes to 
distingiiish them by the names of Dendrocopus mediantLS, inhabiting^ the middle 
parts of North America, chiefly dilTerent from 1). pubescens in the greater portion 
of red on tJie hin<l head, relative length of the quills, and shape of the tail-feathers; 
and Drndrocopus meridiomilis , inhabiting Georgia, less than D. pubescens , djad with 
the imder plumage hair brown. — Ed. 



DOWNY WOODPECKER. 105 

to admit the bodies of the owners. During this labor, they regularly 
carry out the chips, often strewing them at a distance, to prevent sus- 
picion. This operation sometimes occupies the chief part of a week. 
Before she begins to lay, the female often visits the place, passes out 
and in, examines every pari, both of the exterior and interior, with 
great attention, as every prudent tenant of a new house ought to do, 
and at length takes complete possession. The eggs are generally six, 
pure white, and laid on the smooth bottom of the cavity. The male 
occasionally supplies the female with food while she is sitting ; and 
about the last week in June the young are perceived making their way 
up the tree, climbing with considerable dexterity. All this goes on 
with great regularity Avhere no interruption is met with ; but the 
House Wren, who also builds in the hollow of a tree, but who is neither 
furnished with the necessary tools nor strength for excavating such an 
apartment for himself, allows the Woodpeckers to go on, till he thinks 
it will answer his purpose, then attacks them with violence, and gen- 
erally succeeds in driving them off. I saw some weeks ago a striking 
example of this, Avhere the Woodpeckers we are now describing, after 
commencing in a cherry-tree, within a few yards of the house, and 
having made considerable progress, were turned out by the Wren ; the 
former began again on a pear-tree in the garden, fifteen or twenty 
yards off, whence, after digging out a most complete apartment, and 
one egg being laid, they were once more assaulted by the same imper- 
tinent intruder, and finally forced to abandon the place. 

The principal characteristics of this little bird are diligence, famili- 
arity, perseverance, and a strength and energy in the head and muscles 
of the neck, which are truly astonishing. Mounted on the infected 
branch of an old apple-tree, where insects have lodged their corroding 
and destructive brood in crevices between the bark and wood, he labors 
sometimes for half an hour incessantly at the same spot, before he has 
succeeded in dislodging and destroying them. At these times you 
may walk up pretty close to the tree, and even stand immediately 
below it, within five or six feet of the bird, without in the least em- 
barrassing him ; the strokes of his bill are distinctly heard several 
hundred yards off; and I have known him to be at work for two hours 
together on the same tree. Buffon calls this " incessant toil and 
slavery ; " their attitude, " a painful posture ; " and their life, " a dull 
and insipid existence ; " expressions improper, because untrue ; and 
absurd, because contradictory. The posture is that for which the 
whole organization of his frame is particularly adapted ; and though, 
to a Wren or a Humming Bird, the labor would be both toil and slavery, 
yet to him it is, I am convinced, as pleasant and as amusing, as the 
sports of the chase to the hunter, or the sucking of flowers to the 
Humming Bird. The eagerness with which he traverses the upper 
and lower sides of the branches ; the cheerfulness of his cry, and the 
liveliness of his motions while digging into the tree and dislodging the 
vermin, justify this belief He has a single note, or chink, which, like 
the former species, he frequently repeats ; and when he flies off, or 
alights on another tree, he utters a rather shriller cry, composed of 
nearly the same kind of note, quickly reiterated. In fall and winter, 
he associates with the Titmouse, Creeper, &c., both in their wood and 
orchard excursions, and usually leads the van. Of all our Wood- 



106 DOWNY WOODPECKER. 

peckers, none rid the apple-trees of so many vermin as this, digging 
off the moss which the negligence of the proprietor had suffered to 
accumulate, and probing every crevice. In fact, tlie orchard is his 
favorite resort in all seasons ; and his industry is unequalled, and 
almost incessant, which is more than can be said of any other species 
we have. In fall, he is particularly fond of boring the apple-trees for 
insects, digging a circular hole through the bark, just sufficient to ad- 
mit his bill, afler that a second, third, &c., in pretty regular, horizontal 
circles round the body of the tree ; these parallel circles of holes are 
oflen not more than an inch or an inch and a half apart, and some- 
times so close together, that I have covered eight or ten of them at 
once with a dollar. From nearly the surface of the ground up to the 
first fork, and sometimes far beyond it, the whole bark of many apple- 
trees is perforated in this manner, so as to appear as if made by 
successive discharges of buck-shot ; and our little Woodpecker, the 
subject of the present account, is the principal perpetrator of this 
supposed mischief, — I say supposed, for so far from these perforations 
of the bark being ruinous, they are not only harmless, but, I have 
good reason to believe, really beneficial to the health and fertility of 
the tree. I leave it to the philosophical botanist to account for this ; 
but the fact I am confident of. In more than fifty orchards which I 
have myself carefully examined, those trees which were marked by 
the Woodpecker (for some trees they never touch, perhaps because 
not penetrated by insects) were uniformly the most thriving, and 
seemingly the most productive ; many of these were upwards of sixty 
years old, their trunks completely covered with holes, while the 
branches were broad, luxuriant, and loaded with fruit. Of decayed 
trees, more than three fourths were untouched by the Woodpecker. 
Several intelligent farmers, with whom I have conversed, candidly 
acknowledge the truth of these observations, and with justice look 
upon these birds as beneficial ; but the most common opinion is, that 
they bore the trees to suck the sap, and so destroy its vegetation; 
though pine and other resinous trees, on the juices of which it is not 
pretended they feed, are often found equally perforated. Were the 
sap of the tree their object, the saccharine juice of the birch, the sugar 
maple, and several others, would be much more inviting, because more 
sweet and nourishing, than that of either the pear or apple-tree ; but I 
have not observed one mark on the former, for ten tiiousand that may 
be seen on the latter. Besides, the early part of spring is the season 
when the sap flows most abundantly ; whereas, it is only during the 
months of September, October, and November, that Woodpeckers are 
seen so indefatigably engaged in orchards, probing every crack and 
crevice, boring through the bark, and, what is worth remarking, chief- 
ly on the south and south-west sides of the tree, for the eggs and 
larvffi deposited there by tiie countless swarms of summer insects. 
These, if suffered to remain, would prey upon tlie very vitals, if I may 
so express it, of the tree, and in the succeeding summer give birth to 
myriads more of their race, equally destructive. 

Here, then, is a whole species, I may say, genus, of birds, which 
Providence seems to have formed for the protection of our fruit and 
forest-trees from tlie ravages of vermin Avhich everyday destroy mil- 
lions of those noxious insects that would otherwise blast the hopes of 



MOCKING BIRD. 107 

the husbandman, and which even promote the fertility of the tree 
and, in return, are proscribed by those who ought to have been their 
protectors, and incitements and rewards held out for tlieir destruction ! 
Let us examine better into the operations of nature, and many of our 
mistaken opinions and groundless prejudices will be abandoned for 
more just, enlarged, and humane modes of thinking. 

The length of the Downy Woodpecker is six inches and three 
quarters, and its extent twelve inches ; crown, black ; hind head, deep 
scarlet ; stripe over the eye, white ; nostrils, thickly covered with re- 
cumbent hairs, or small feathers, of a cream color; these, as in the 
preceding species, are thick and bushy, as if designed to preserve the 
forehead from injury during the violent action of digging ; the back is 
black, and divided by a lateral strip of white, loose, downy, unwebbed 
feathers ; wings, black, spotted with white ; tail-coverts, rump, and 
four middle feathers of the tail, black ; the other three on each side, 
white, crossed with touches of black ; whole under parts, as well as 
the sides of the neck, white ; the latter marked with a streak of black, 
proceeding from the lower mandible, exactly as in the Hairy Wood- 
pecker ; legs and feet, bluish green ; claws, light blue, tipped with 
black ; tongue formed like that of the preceding species, horny to- 
wards the tip, where, for one eighth of an inch, it is barbed ; bill, of 
a bluish horn color, grooved, and wedge-formed, like most of the 
genus ; eye, dark hazel. The female wants the red on the hind head, 
having that part white ; and the breast and belly are of a dirty white. 

This, and the two former species, are generally denominated Sap- 
suckers. They have also several other provincial appellations, equally 
absurd, which it may, perhaps, be more proper to suppress than to 
sanction by repeating. 



MOCKING BIRD. — TURDUS POLYGLOTTUS. — Fig. 39. 

Mimic Thrush, Lath. Syn. iii. p. 40, No. 42. — ^rci. ZooL ii. No. 194. — Turdus 
polyglottus, Lin. Syst. i. p. 293, No. 10. — Le grand moqueur, Bnss. Orn. ii. 
p. 2G6, 29.^ Buff. Ois. iii. p. 325, PL enl. 558, Fig-. 1. — Singing Bird, Mockinff 
Bird, or Nightingale, Rail Syn. p. 64, No. 5, p. 185, 31. — Sloan. Jam. ii. 30o, 
No. 34. — The Mock Bird, Catesb. Car. i. pi. ^1.— Peak's Museum, No. 5288. 

ORPHEUS POLYGLOTTUS. — SvfAitfsorf. 

Turdus polyglotlus, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 74. — The Mocking Bird, Aud. pi. xxi. Orn. 

Biog. 108. 

This celebrated and very extraordinary bird, in extent and variety 
of vocal powers, stands unrivalled by the whole feathered songsters 
of this, or perhaps any other country, and shall receive from us, in 
this place, all that attention and respect which superior merit is 
justly entitled to. 

Among the many novelties which the discovery of this part of the 
western continent first brought into notice, we may reckon tliat of the 



108 MOCKING BIRD. 

Mocking Bird, which is not only peculiar to the New World, but 
inhabits a very considerable extent of both North and South America ; 
having been traced from the states of New England to Brazil, and 
also among many of the adjacent islands. They are, however, much 
more numerous in those states south, than in those north, of the River 
Delaware ; being generally migratory in the latter, and resident (at 
least many of them) in the former. A warm climate, and low country, 
not far from the sea, seems most congenial to their nature ; accord- 
ingly, we find the species less numerous to the west than east of the 
great range of the Alleghany, in the same parallels of latitude. In the 
severe winter of 1808-9, I found these birds, occasionally, from Fred- 
ericksburg, in Virginia, to the southern parts of Georgia ; becoming 
still more numerous the farther I advanced to the south. The berries 
of the red cedar, myrtle, holly, Cassine shrub, many species of 
smilax, together with gum berries, gall berries, and a profusion of 
others with which the luxuriant, swampy thickets of those regions 
abound, furnish them with a perpetual feast. Winged insects, also, 
of which they are very fond, and remarkably expert at catching, 
abound there even in winter, and are an additional inducement to 
residency. Though rather a shy bird in the Northern States, here he 
appeared almost half domesticated, feeding on the cedars, and among 
the thickets of smilax that lined the roads, while I passed within a few 
feet; playing around the planter's door, and hopping along the shin- 
gles. During the month of February, I sometimes heard a solitary 
one singing ; but, on the 2d of March, in the neighborhood of Savan- 
nah, numbers of them were heard on every hand, vieing in song with 
each other, and with the Brown Thrush, making the whole woods 
vocal with their melody. Spring was at tliat time considerably 
advanced, and the thermometer ranging between 70 and 78 degrees. 
On arriving at New York, on the ^Sd of the same month, I found 
many parts of the country still covered with snow, and the streets 
piled with ice to the height of two feet; while neither the Brown 
Thrush nor Mocking Bird were observed, even in the lower parts of 
Pennsylvania, until the 20th of April. 

The precise time at which the Mocking Bird begins to build his 
nest, varies according to the latitude in which he resides. In the 
lower parts of Georgia, he commences building early in April ; but 
in Pennsylvania, rarely before tlie 10th of May ; and in New York, 
and the states of New England, still later. There are particular situ- 
ations to which he gives the preference. A solitary thorn bush ; an 
almost impenetrable thicket; an orange-tree, cedar, or holly bush, are 
favorite spots, and frequently selected. It is no great objection with 
him that these happen, sometimes, to be near the farm, or mansion- 
house : always ready to defend, but never over-anxious to conceal, 
his nest, he very often builds witliin a small distance of the house ; 
and not unfrequently in a pear or apple-tree; rarely at a greater 
height than six or seven feet from the ground. The nest varies a 
little with different individuals, according to the conveniency of 
collecting suitable materials. A very complete one is now lying" 
before me, and is composed of the following substances: First, a quan- 
tity of dry twigs and sticks, then, withered tops of weeds, of the pre- 
ceding year, intermixed witii fine straws, hay, pieces of wool and 



MOCKING BIRD. 109 

tow ; and, lastly, a thick layer of fine fibrous roots, of a light brown 
color, lines tlie whole. The eggs, one of which is represented on the 
plate, are four, sometimes five, of a cinereous blue, marked with large 
blotches of brown. The female sits fourteen days, and generally pro- 
duces two broods in the season, unless robbed of her eggs, in which 
case she will even build and lay the third time. She is, however, 
extremely jealous of her nest, and very apt to forsake it if much dis- 
turbed. It is even asserted by some of our bird-dealers that the old 
ones will actually destroy the eggs, and poison the young, if either the 
one or the other have been handled. But I cannot give credit to this 
unnatural report. I know, from my own experience, at least, that it is 
not ahvays their practice ; neither have I ever witnessed a case of the 
kind above mentioned. During the period of incubation, neither cat, 
dog, animal, nor man, can approach the nest without being attacked. 
The cats, in particular, are persecuted whenever they make their 
appearance, till obliged to retreat. But his whole vengeance is most 
particularly directed against that mortal enemy of his eggs and young, 
tlie black snake. Whenever the insidious approaches of this reptile 
are discovered, the male darts upon it with the rapidity of an arrow, 
dexterously eluding its bite, and striking it violently and incessantly 
about the head, where it is very vulnerable. The snake soon becomes 
sensible of its danger, and seeks to escape ; but the intrepid defender 
of his young redoubles his exertions, and, unless his antagonist be of 
great magnitude, often succeeds in destroying him. All its pretended 
powers of fascination avail it nothing against the vengeance of this 
noble bird. As tlie snake's strength begins to flag, the Mocking Bird 
seizes and lifts it up, partly, from the ground, beating it with his wings ; 
ind, when the business is completed, he returns to the repository of 
his young, mounts the summit of the bush, and pours out a torrent of 
song in token of victory. 

As it is of some consequence to be able to distinguish a young 
male bird from a female, the following marks may be attended to ; 
by which some pretend to be able to distinguish them in less than 
a week after they are hatched. These are, the breadth and purity of 
the white on the wings, for that on the tail is not so much to be 
depended on. This white, in a full-growi. male bird, spreads over the 
whole nine primaries, down to, and considerably below, their coverts, 
which are also white, sometimes slightly tipped with brown. The 
white of the primaries also extends equally far on both vanes of the 
feathers. In the female, the white is less pure, spreads over only 
seven or eight of the primaries, does not descend so far, and extends 
considerably farther down on the broad, than on the narrow, side of 
the feathers. The black is also more of a brownish cast 

The young birds, if intended for the cage, ought not to be left till 
they are nearly ready to fly, but should be taken rather young than 
otherwise ; and may be fed, every half hour, with milk, thickened with 
Indian meal; mixing occasionally Avith it a little fresh meat, cut or 
minced very fine. After they begin to eat of their own accord, they 
ought still to be fed by hand, though at longer intervals, and a few 
cherries, strawberries, &c., now and then thrown in to them. The 
same sort of food, adding grasshoppers and fruit, particularly the 
various kinds of berries in which they delight, and plenty of clear, fine 



1 10 MOCKING BIRD. 

gravel, is found very proper for them after they are grown up. Should 
the bird at any time appear sick or dejected, a few spiders thrown in 
to him will generally remove these symptoms of disease. 

If the young bird is designed to be taught by an old one, the best 
singer should be selected for this office, and no other allowed to be 
beside him. Or, if by the bird organ, or mouth-whistling, it should 
be begun early, and continued, pretty constantly, by tlie same person, 
until the scholar, who is seldom inattentive, has completely acquired 
his lesson. The best singing birds, however, in my own opinion, are 
those that have been reared in the country, and educated under the 
tuition of the feathered choristers of the surrounding fields, groves, 
woods, and meadows. 

The plumage of the Mocking Bird, though none of the homeliest, 
has nothing gaudy or brilliant in it; and, had he nothing else to 
recommend him, would scarcely entitle him to notice; but his figure 
is well proportioned, and even handsome. The ease, elegance, and 
rapidity of his movements, the animation of his eye, and the intelli- 
gence he displays in listening and laying up lessons from almost every 
species of the feathered creation witliin his hearing, are really surpri- 
sing, and mark the peculiarity of his genius. To these qualities we 
may add that of a voice full, strong, and musical, and capable of al- 
most every modulation, from the clear, mellow tones of the Wood 
Thrush, to the savage scream of the Bald Eagle. In measure and 
accent, he faithfully follows his originals. In force and sweetness of 
expression, he greatly improves upon them. In his native groves, 
mounted on the top of a tall bush, or half-grown tree, in the dawn of 
dewy morning, while the woods are already vocal with a multitude 
of warblers, his admirable song rises preeminent over every com- 
petitor. The ear can listen to his music alone, to which that of all 
the otliers seems a mere accompaniment. Neither is this strain alto- 
gether imitative. His own native notes, Avhich are easily distinguish- 
able by such as are well acquainted with those of our various song 
birds, are bold and full, and varied seemingly beyond all limits. They 
consist of short expressions of two, three, or, at the most, five or six 
syllables ; generally interspersed with imitations, and all of them 
uttered with great emphasis and rapidity ; and continued, with undi- 
minished ardor, for half an hour, or an hour, at a time. His expanded 
wings and tail, glistening with white, and the buoyant gayety of his 
action, arresting the eye, as his song most irresistibly does the ear, he 
sweeps round with enthusiastic ecstasy — he mounts and descends as his 
song swells or dies away ; and, as my friend Mr. Bartram has beautifully 
expressed it, " He bounds aloft with the celerity of an arrow, as if to 
recover or recall his very soul, expired in the last elevated strain." * 
While thus exerting himself, a bystander, destitute of sight, would sup- 
pose that the whole feathered tribes had assembled together, on a 
trial of skill, each striving to produce liis utmost efiect; so perfect 
are his imitations. He many times deceives tlie sportsman, and sends 
him in search of birds tliat perhaps are not within miles of him, but 
whose notes he exactly imitates: even birds themselves are frequently 
impose'd on by this admirable mimic, and are decoyed, by tlie fancied 

* Travels, p. 32. Inlrod. 



MOCKING BIRD. Ill 

calls of their mates, or dive, with precipitation, into the depth of 
thickets, at the scream of what they suppose to be the Sparrow Hawk. 

The Mocking Bird loses little of the power and energy of his song 
by confinement In his domesticated state, when he commences his 
career of song, it is impossible to stand by uninterested. He whistles 
for the dog, — Caesar starts up, wags his tail, and runs to meet his 
master. He squeaks out like a hurt Chicken, — and the Hen hurries 
about with hanging wings, and bristled feathers, clucking to protect 
its injured brood. The barking of the dog, the mewing of the cat, 
the creaking of a passing wheelbarrow, follow, with great truth and 
rapidity. He repeats the tune taught him by his master, though of 
considerable length, fully and faithfully. He runs over the quiverings 
of the Canary, and the clear whistlings of the Virginia Nightingale, 
or Red-Bird, with such superior execution and effect, that the morti- 
fied songsters feel their own inferiority, and become altogether silent ; 
while he seems to triumph in their defeat by redoubling his exertions. 

This excessive fondness for variety, however, in the opinion of 
some, injures his song. His elevated imitations of the Brown Thrush 
are frequently interrupted by the crowing of Cocks ; and the warblings 
of the Blue-Bird, which he exquisitely manages, are mingled with the 
screaming of Swallows, or the cackling of Hens ; amidst the simple 
melody of the Robin, we are suddenly surprised by the shrill reitera- 
tions of the Whip-poor-will ; while the notes of the Killdeer, Blue 
Jay, Martin, Baltimore, and twenty others, succeed, with such impos- 
ing reality, that we look round for the originals, and discover, with 
astonishment, that the sole performer in this singular concert is the 
admirable bird now before us. During this exhibition of his powers, 
he spreads his wings, expands his tail, and throws himself around the 
cage in all the ecstasy of enthusiasm, seeming not only to sing, but 
to dance, keeping time to the measure of his own music. Both in his 
native and domesticated state, during the solemn stillness of night, 
cLs soon as the moon rises in silent majesty, he begins his delightful 
solo, and serenades us the livelong night with a full display of his 
vocal powers, making the whole neighborhood ring with his inimitable 
medley.* 

Were it not to seem invidious in the eyes of foreigners, 1 might, in 
this place, make a comparative statement between the powers of the 
Mocking Bird, and the only bird, I believe, in the world, worthy of 
being compared with him, — the European Nightingale. This, how- 
ever, I am unable to do from my own observation, having never 
myself heard the song of the latter; and, even if 1 had, perhaps 

* The hunters in the Southern States, when setthig out upon an excursion by 
ni^t, as soon as they hear the Mocking Bird begin to sing, know that the moon is 
rising. 

A certain anonymous author, speaking of the Mocking Birds in the island of 
Jamaica, and tlieir practice of singing by moonhght, thus gravely philosophizes, and 
attempts to account for the habit. " It is not certain," says he, " whether they are 
kept so wakeful by the clearness of the light, or by any extraordinary attention and 
vigilance, at such times, for the protection of their nursery from the piratical as- 
saults of the Owl and the Night Hawk. It is possible that fear may operate upon 
them, much in the same manner as it has been observed to affect some cowardly 
persons, who whistle stoutly in a lonesome place, while their mind is agitated with 
the terror of thieves or hobgoblins." — History of Jamaica, vol. iii. p. 89 1, quarto. 



112 MOCKING BIRD. 

something might be laid to the score of partiality, which, as a faithful 
biographer, I am anxious to avoid. \, shall, therefore, present the 
reader with the opinion of a distinguished English naturalist and 
curious observer, on this subject, the Honorable Daines Barrington, 
who, at the time he made the communication, was vice-president of 
the Royal Society, to which it was addressed.* 

"It may not be improper here," says this gentleman, "to consider 
whether the Nightingale may not have a very formidable competitor 
in the American Mocking Bird, though almost all travellers agree, 
that the concert in the European woods is superior to that of the other 
parts of the globe." " I have happened, however, to hear the Ameri- 
can Mocking Bird, in great perfection, at Messrs. Vogels and Scotts, 
in Love Lane, Eastcheap. This bird is believed to be still living, and 
hath been in England these six years. During the space of a minute, 
he imitated the Woodlark, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Thrush, and Sparrow ; 
I was told also tliat he would bark like a dog; so that the bird seems 
to have no choice in his imitations, though his pipe comes nearest to 
our Nightingale of any bird I have yet met with. With regard to the 
original notes, however, of this bird, we are still at a loss, as this can 
only be knoAvn by those who are accurately acquainted with the song 
of the other American birds. Kalm indeed informs us, that the 
natural song is excellent;! ^^t this traveller seems not to have been 
long enough in America to have distinguished what were the genuine 
notes : Avith us, mimics do not often succeed but in imitations. I have 
little doubt, however, but that this bird would be fully equal to tlie 
song of the Nightingale in its whole compass ; but then, from the 
attention which the Mocker pays to any other sort of disagreeable 
noise, these capital notes would be always debased by a bad mix- 
ture." 

On this extract I shall make a few remarks. If, as is here con- 
ceded, the Mocking Bird be fully equal to the song of the Nightin- 
gale, and, as I can with confidence add, not only to that, but to the 
song of almost every other bird, besides being capable of exactly 
imitating various other sounds and voices of animals, — his vocal 
powers are unquestionably superior to those of the Nightingale, which 
possesses its own native notes alone. Further, if we consider, as is 
asserted by Mr. Barrington, that "one reason of the Nightingale's 
being more attended to than others is, that it sings in the night ; " and 
if we believe, with Shakspeare, that 

The Nightingale, if she should sing hy day, 
When every Goose is cackling, would be ihought 
No belter a musician than a Wren, 

what must we think of that bird, who, in the glare of day, when a 
multitude of songsters are straining their throats in melody, over- 
powers all competition, and, by the superiority of his voice, expression, 
and action, not only attracts every ear, but frequently strikes dumb 
his mortified rivals ; when tlie silence of night, as well as tlie bustle of 
day, bear witness to his melody ; and when, even in captivity, in a 

* Philosophical Transactio/is. vol. Ixii. part ii. p. 28k 
t Travels, vol. i. p. 219. 



MOCKING BIRD. Il3 

foreign country, he is declared, by the best judges in that country, to 
be fully equal to tlie song of their sweetest bird in Us tvhole compass^ 
The supposed degradation of his song by the introduction of extra- 
neous sounds and unexpected imitations, is, in fact, one of the chief 
excellences of this bird ; as these changes give a perpetual novelty 
to his strain, keep attention constanily awake, and impress every 
hearer with a deeper interest in what is to follow. In short, if we 
believe in the truth of that mathematical axiom, that the whole is 
greater tlian a part, all that is excellent or delightful, anmsing or 
striking, in the music of birds, must belong to that admirable songster, 
whose vocal powers are equal to the whole compass of their whole 
strains. 

The native notes of the Mocking Bird have a considerable resem- 
blance to those of the Brown Thrush, but may easily be distinguished 
by their greater rapidity, sweetness, energy of expression, and variety. 
Both, however, have, in many parts of the United States, particularly 
in those to the south, obtained the name of Mocking Bird ; the first, or 
Brown Thrush, from its inferiority of song, being called the French, 
and the other the English Mocking Bird, — a mode of expression 
probably originating in the prejudices of our forefathers, with whom 
every thing French was inferior to every thing English.* 

The Mocking Bird is frequently taken in trap-cages, and, by proper 
management, may be made sufficiently tame to sing. The upper parts 
of the cage (which ought to be of wood) should be kept covered, 
until the bird becomes a little more reconciled to confinement. If 
placed in a wire cage, uncovered, he will soon destroy himself in at- 
tempting to get out. These birds, however, by proper treatment, may 
be brought to sing perhaps superior to those raised by hand, and cost 
loss trouble. The opinion which the naturalists of Europe entertain of 
the great difficulty of raising the Mocking Bird, and that not one in 
ten survives, is very incorrect. A person called on me a few days ago, 
with twenty-nine of these birds, old and young, which he had carried 
about the fields with him for several days, for the convenience of feed- 
ing them while engaged in trapping others. He had carried them thirty 
miles, and intended carrying them ninety-six miles farther, viz., to New- 
York, and told me tliat he did not expect to lose one out often of 
them. Cleanliness, and regularity in feeding, are the two principal 
things to be attended to ; and these rarely fail to succeed. 

The eagerness with which the nest of the Mocking Bird is sought 
after in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, has rendered this bird ex- 
tremely scarce for an extent of several miles round the city. In the 
country round Wilmington and Newcastle, they are very numerous, 
from whence they are frequently brought here for sale. The usual 
price of a singing bird is from seven to fifteen, and even twenty dollars. 
I have known fifty dollars paid for a remarkably fine singer, and one 
instance where one hundred dollars were refused for a still more extra- 
ordinary one. 

* The observations of Mr. Barring-ton, in the paper above referred to, make this 
supposition still more probable. " Some Nightingales," says he, " are so vastly 
inferior, that the bird-catchers \vill not keep them, branding them with the name of 
Frenchmen." P. 283. 

10* 



114 MOCKING BIRD. 

Attempts have been made to induce these charming birds to pair, 
and rear their youncr, jn a state of confinement, and the result has been 
such as to prove it, by proper management, perfectly practicable. In 
the spring of 1808, a Mr. Klein, living in North Seventh Street, 
Philadelphia, partitioned off about twelve feet square in the third story 
of his house. This was lighted by a pretty large wire-grated window. 
In the centre of this small room he planted a cedar bush, five or six 
feet high, in a box of earth, and scattered about a sufficient quan- 
tity of materials suitable for building. Into this place a male and 
female Mocking Bird were put, and soon began to build. The female 
laid five eggs, all of which she hatched, and fed the young with great 
affection until they were nearly able to fly. Business calling the 
proprietor from home for two weeks, he left the birds to the care of his 
domestics, and, on his return, found, to his great regret, that they 
had been neglected in food. The young ones were all dead, and the 
parents themselves nearly famished. The same pair have again com- 
menced building this season, in tlie same place, and have at this time, 
July 4, 1809, three young, likely to do well. The place might be fitted 
up with various kmds of shrubbery, so as to resemble their native 
thickets, and ought to be as remote from noise and interruption of 
company as possible, and strangers rarely allowed to disturb, or even 
approach them. 

The Mocking Bird is nine and a half inches long, and thirteen in 
breadth. Some individuals are, however, larger, and some smaller, 
those of the fii'st hatch being uniformly the biggest and stoutest.* The 
upper parts of the head, neck, and back, are a dark, brownish ash, and 
when new moulted, a fine light gray ; the wings and tail are nearly 
bl'ick, the first and second rows of coverts tipped with white ; the prima- 
ry coverts, in some males, are wholly white, in others, tinged with 
brown. The three first primaries are white from their roots as far as 
their coverts ; the white on the next six extends from an inch to one 
and three fourths farther down, descending equally on both sides of 
the feather ; the tail is cuneiform, the two exterior feathers wholly 
white, the rest, except the middle ones, tipped with white ; the chin is 
white; sides of the neck, breast, belly, and vent, a brownish white, 
much purer in wild birds than in those that have been domesticated ; 
iris of the eye, yelloAvish cream colored, inclining to golden; bill, 
black, the base of the lower mandible, Avhitish ; legs and feet, black, 
and strong. The female very much resembles the male; what differ- 
ence there is, has been already pointed out in a preceding part of this 
account. The breast of the young bird is spotted like that of the 
Thrush.t 



* Many people are of opinion that there are two sorts, the lar^e and the small 
Mockinff 15inl ; hut, after examining' groat numbers of these birds ni various regions 
of the United States, 1 am satisfied that this variation of size is merely accidenteJ, 
or owing to the circumstance above mentioned. 

t A bird is described in tlic IVortheni Zoolo2;ij as the Varied Thrush of Pennant, 
the Tardus ncrx^ius of Laliiam, wliicli will raiik as an addition to the North Amer- 
ican species of this genus, and has been named by Mr. Swainson O. meniloides, 
Thriishlike Mocking l?ird. Mr. Swainson has changed the name of Latham, to 
give it one expressive of its form ; as he considers tiie structure intemiediate between 
Orpheus and Tardus, though leaning most to the former. According to Dr. Rich- 



HUMMING BIRD. 115 

Mr. William Bartram observes of the Mocking Bird, that " formerly, 
say thirty or forty years ago, they were numerous, and often staid all 
winter Avith us, or the year through, feeding on the berries of ivy, smi- 
lax, grapes, persimmons, and otlier berries. The ivy [Hedera helix) 
they were particularly fond of, thougli a native of Europe. We have an 
ancient plant adhering to the wall of the house, covering many yards 
of surface ; this vine is very fruitful, and here many would iced and 
lodge during the winter, and, in very severe cold weather, sit on tlje 
top of the chimney to warm themselves." He also adds, " I have ob- 
served that the Mocking Bird ejects from his stomach through his 
mouth the hard kernels of berries, such as smilax, grapes, &c., retain- 
ing the pulpy part." * 



HUMMING BlRD.i — TROCHILUS COLUBRIS. — Figs. 40, 41. 

Trochikis colubris, Linn. Syst. i. p. 191, No. 12. — L'Oiseau mouche asorg-e roug-e 
de la Caroline, Bnss. Orn. iii. p. 716, No. 13, t. 36, Fig. 6. — Le Ruhis, Buf. 
Ois. vi. p. 13. — Humming' Bird, Catesb. Car. i. 65. — Red-throated Hmiiming- 
Bird, Edw. i. 38, male and female. — Za^/i. Sijn. ii. 769, No. 2^. — Peak's 
Museum, No. 2520. 

TROCHILUS COLUBRTS.—L.itiN^.us. 

Trochilus colubris, Bonap. Synop. p. 98. — The Ruby-throated Humming- Bird, And. 
pi. xlvii. Orn. Biog;. i. 24.8. — Trochilus colubris, Northern Humming Bird, 
North. Zool. ii. p. 323. 

Nature, in every department of her work, seems to delight in vari- 
ety ; and the present subject of our history is almost as singular for 
its minuteness, beauty, want of song, and manner of feeding, as the 
preceding is for unrivalled excellence of notes, and plainness of phi- 

ardson, it was discovered by Captain Cook at Nootka Sound, and described by 
Latham from these specimens. — Ed. 

* Letter from Mr. Bartram to the author. 

t The " Fairy Humming Birds," '' The Jewels of Ornitholog-y," 

" Least of the winged vagrants of the sky," 

though amply dispersed over the southern continent of the New World, from their 
delicate and slender structure, being unable to bear the severities of a hardier cli- 
mate, are, with two exceptions, withdrawn from its northern parts ; and it is wth 
wonder that we see creatures of such tiny dimensions occasionally daring to brave 
even the snows and frosts of a northern latitude. The present species, though 
sometimes exceeding its appointed time, is obliged to seek warmer abodes during 
winter; and it is another subject for astonishment and reflection, how they are 
enabled to perform a lengthened migration, where the slightest gale would waft 
them far from their proper course. Mr. Audubon is of opinion, that they mi- 
grate during the night, passing- through the air in long- midulations, raising them- 
selves for some distance at an angle ot about 40°, and Uien falling in a curve ; but 
he adds, that the smallness of their size precludes the possibility of following them 
farther than fifty or sixty yards, even with a good glass. 

The Humming Birds, or what are generally known by the genus Trochilus of 
Linnaeus, have been, through the researches of late travellers and naturalists, vastly 



no HUMMING BIRD. 

mage. Though this interesting and beautiful genus of birds compre- 
hends upwards of seventy species, all of which, with a very few ex- 
ceptions, are natives of America and its adjacent islands, it is yet sin- 
gular that the species now before us siiould be the only one of its tribe 
that ever visits the territory of the United States. 

According to the observations of my friend Mr. Abbot, of Savannah, 
m Georgia, who has been engaged these thirty years in collecting and 
drawing subjects of natural history in that part of the country, tiie Hum- 
ming Bird makes its first appearance there, from the south, about the 23d 
of March, two weeks earlier than it does in the county of Burke, sixty 
miles higher up the country towards the interior, and at least five 
weeks sooner than it reaches this part of Pennsylvania. As it passes 
on to the northward, as far as the interior of Canada, where it is seen 
in great numbers,* the Avonder is excited hoAv so feebly constructed 
and delicate a little creature can make its way over such extensive 
regions of lakes and forests, among so many enemies, all its superiors 
in strength and magnitude. But its very minuteness, the rapidity of 
its flight, which almost eludes the eye, and that admirable instinct, 
reason, or whatever else it may be called, and daring courage, which 
Heaven has implanted in its bosom, are its guides and protectors. 
In these we may also perceive the reason why an all- wise Providence 
has made this little hero an exception to a rule which prevails almost 
universally through nature, viz., that the smallest species of a tribe 
are the most prolific. The Eagle lays one, sometimes two, eggs ; the 
Crow, five ; the Titmouse, seven or eight ; the small European Wren, 
fifteen ; the Humming Bird tivo : and yet this latter is abundantly 
more numerous in America than the Wren is in Europe. 

About the 25th oi" April, the Humming Bird usually arrives in 
Pennsylvania, and, about the 10th of May, begins to build its nest. 
This is generally fixed on the upper side of a horizontal branch, not 
among the twigs, but on the body of the branch itself. Yet I have 
known instances where it was attached by the side to an old moss- 
grown trunk ; and others where it was fastened on a strong rank stalk, 
or weed, in the garden ; but these cases are rare. In the woods, it 
very often chooses a white oak sapling to build on ; and in the orchard 
or garden, selects a pear-tree for that purpose. The branch is sel- 

incrcased in their numbers ; they form a large and closely-connected group, but 
show a considerable variety of form and character, and have been divided into 
difl'erent genera. They may be said to be strictly' confined to the New World, 
with her islands ; and although other countries possess many splendid and closely- 
allied fonns, " with gemmed frontlets and necks of verdant gold,"' which have been 
by some included, none we consider can properly range with any of those found 
in this division of the world. In India and tiie Asiatic continent, they may be 
represented by Careba, &c. ; in Africa, by Nectarinia and Cyniris ; and in Aus- 
tralia and in the Southern Pacific, by Mdiphaga, Mijrzotnela, &,c. Europe pos- 
sesses no direct prototype. 

The second northern species alKuled to was discovered by Captain Cook in 
Noolka Sound, and first described by Dr. Latham, as the RufVed-necked Hum- 
ming IVird. Mr. Swainson introduces it in the Norlhom Zoolos^j, under his genus 
Setasplionis. It ranges southwards to Real del Monte, on the table-land of Mex- 
ico. — En. 

* Mr. M'Kcnzie sneaks of seeing a " beautiful Humming Bird " near the head 
of the Unjigah, or rcace River, in lal. 51 deg., but has not particularized the 
species. 



HUMMING BIRD. 117 

dom more than ten feet from the ground. The nest is about an inch 
in diameter, and as much in depth. A very complete one is now 
lying before me, and the materials of wliich it is composed are as 
follows : — The outward coat is formed of small pieces of a species 
of bluish gray lichen that vegetates on old trees and fences, thickly 
glued on with the saliva of the bird, giving firmness and consistency 
to the whole, as well as keeping out moisture. Within this are thick, 
matted layers of the fine wings of certain flying seeds, closely laid 
together; and, lastly, the downy substance from the great mullein, 
and from the stalks of the common fern, lines the whole. The base 
of the nest is continued round the stem of the branch, to which it 
closely adheres ; and, when viewed from below, appears a mere mossy 
knot or accidental protuberance. The eggs are two, pure white, and of 
equal thickness at both ends. The nest and eggs in the plate were 
copied with great precision, and by actual measurement, from one 
just taken in from the woods. On a person's approaching their nest, 
the little proprietors dart around with a humming sound, passing fre- 
quently within a few inches of one's head ; and, should the young be 
newly hatched, the female will resume her place on the nest even 
while you stand within a yard or two of the spot. The precise period 
of incubation I am unable to give ; but the young are in the habit, 
a short time before they leave the nest, of thrusting their bills into 
the mouths of their parents, and sucking what they have brought them. 
I never could perceive that they carried them any animal food; 
though, from circumstances tliat will presently be mentioned, I think 
it highly probable they do. As I have found their nests with eggs 
so late as the 12th of July, I do not doubt but that they frequently, 
and perhaps usually, raise two broods in the same season. 

The Humming Bird is extremely fond of tubular flowers, and I 
have often stopped, with pleasure, to observe his manoeuvres among 
the blossoms of the trumpet flower. When arrived before a thicket 
of these, that are full blown, he poises, or suspends, himself on wing, 
for the space of two or three seconds, so steadily, that his wings 
become invisible, or only like a mist; and you can plainly distinguish 
the pupil of his eye looking round with great quickness and circum- 
spection ; the glossy, golden green of his back, and the fire of his 
throat, dazzling in the sun, form altogether a most interesting appear- 
ance. The position into which his body is usually thrown while in 
the act of thrusting his slender tubular tongue into the flower, to ex- 
tract its sweets, is exhibited in the figure on the plate. When he 
alights, which is frequently, he always prefers the small, dead twigs of 
a tree or bush, where he dresses and arranges his plumage with great 
dexterity. His only note is a single chirp, not louder than that of a 
small cricket or grasshopper, generally uttered while passing from 
flower to flower, or when engaged in fight with his felloAvs ; for, when 
two males meet at the same bush or flower, a battle instantly takes 
place ; and the combatants ascend in the air, chirping, darting and 
circling around each other, till the eye is no longer able to follow 
them. The conqueror, however, generally returns to the place to 
reap the fruits of his victory. I have seen him attack, and for a few 
moments tease the King Bird ; and have also seen him, in his turn, 
assaulted by a humble-bee, which he soon put to flight. He is one 



118 HUMMING BIRD. 

of those few birds that are universally beloved; and amidst the sweet, 
dewy serenity of a summer's morning, his appearance among the 
arbors of honeysuckles, and beds of flowers, is truly interesting. 

When the morninc: dawns, and the blest sun again 
Lifts his red glories from the eastern main, 
Then through our woodbines, wet with glittering dews, 
The flower-ied Humming Bird his round pursues ; 
Sips, with inserted tube, the honey'd blooms, 
And chirps his gratitude as round he roams ; 
While richest roses, though in crimson drest, 
Shrink from the splendor of his gorgeous breast. 
What heavenly tints in mingling radiance fly ! 
Each rapid movement gives a different dye 3 
Like scales of burnish'd gold they dazzling show, 
Now sink to shade — now like a furnace glow ! 

The singularity of this little bird has induced many persons to 
attempt to raise them from the nest, and accustom them to the cage. 
Mr. Coffer, of Fairfax county, Virginia, a gentleman who has paid 
great attention to the manners and peculiarities of our native birds, told 
me that he raised and kept two, for some months, in a cage ; supplying 
tliem with honey dissolved in water, on Avhichthey readily fed. As the 
sweetness of the liquid frequently brought small flies and gnats about 
the cage and cup, the birds amused themselves by snapping at them 
on wing, and swallowing them with eagerness, so that these insects 
formed no inconsiderable part of their food. Mr. Charles Wilson 
Peale, proprietor of the museum, tells me that he had two young 
Humming Birds, Avhich he raised from tJie nest. They used to fly 
about the room, and Avould frequently perch on Mrs. Peale's shoulder 
to be fed. When the sun shone strongly in the chamber, he has 
observed them darting after the motes that floated in the light, as 
Flycatchers would after flies. In the summer of 1803, a nest of 
young Humming Birds was brought mc, that were nearly fit to fly. 
One of tiiem actually flew out by tlie window the same evening, and, 
falling against a wall, was killed. The otlier refused food, and the 
next morning I could but just perceive that it had life. A lady in the 
liouse undertook to be its nurse, placed it in her bosom, and, as it 
began to revive, dissolved a little sugar in her mouth, into Avhich she 
thrust its bill, and it sucked with great avidity. In this manner it 
■was brought up until fit for the cage. I kept it upwards of three 
months, supplied it with loaf sugar dissolved in water, which it pre- 
ferred to honey and water, gave it fresh flowers every morning 
sprinkled with the licpiid, and surrounded the space in which I kept 
it with gauze, that it might not injure itself It appeared gay, active, 
and full of spirit, hovering from flower to flow^er, as if in its native 
wilds, and always expressed, by its motions and chirping, great 
pleasure at seeing fresh flowers introduced to its cage. Numbers of 
people visited it from motives of cm-iosity ; and I took every precau- 
tion to preserve it, if possible, tlirough the winter. Unfortunately, 
however, by some means it got at large, and, flying about the room, 
so injured itself tiiat it soon after died. 

This little bird is extremely susceptible of cold, and, if long de- 
prived of the animating influence of the sunbeams, droops, and soon 
dies. A very beautiful male was brought me this season, [1809,] 



HUMMING BIRD. 119 

which I put into a wire cage, and placed in a retired, shaded part of 
the room. After fluttering about for some time, the weatlier being un- 
commonly cool, it clung by the wires, and hung in a seemingly torpid 
state for a whole forenoon. No motion whatever of the lungs could 
be perceived, on the closest inspection, though, at other times, this is 
remarkably observable ; the eyes were shut ; and, when touched by 
the finger, it gave no signs of life or motion. I carried it out to the 
open air, and placed it directly in the rays of the sun, in a sheltered 
situation. In a few seconds, respiration became very apparent ; the 
bird breathed faster and faster, opened its eyes, and began to look 
about, Avith as much seeming vivacity as ever. After it had complete- 
ly recovered, I restored it to liberty ; and it flew off* to the Avithered 
top of a pear-tree, Avhere it sat for some time dressing its disordered 
plumage, and then shot off" like a meteor. 

The flight of the Humming Bird, from flower to flower, greatly re- 
sembles that of a bee, but is so much more rapid, that the latter ap- 
pears a mere loiterer to him. He poises himself on wing, while he 
thrusts his long, slender, tubular tongue into the flowers in search of 
food. He sometimes enters a room by the window, examines the 
bouquets of flowers, and passes out by the opposite door or Avindow. 
He has been knoAvn to take refuge in a hot-house during the cool 
nights of autumn, to go regularly out in the morning, and to return as 
regularly in the evening, for several days together. 

The Humming Bird has, hitherto, been supposed to subsist alto- 
gether on the honey, or liquid sweets, Avhich it extracts from floAvers. 
One or tAVo curious observers have, indeed, remarked, that they have 
found evident fragments of insects in the stomach of this species; but 
these have been generally believed to have been taken in by accident. 
The feAv opportunities Avhich Europeans have to determine this point 
by observations made on tho living bird, or by dissection of the newly- 
killed one, have rendered this mistaken opinion almost general in Eu- 
rope. For myself, I can speak decisively on this subject: I have seen 
the Humming Bird, for half an hour at a time, darting at those little 
groups of insects that dance in the air in a fine summer evening, 
retiring to an adjoining tAvig to rest, and rencAving the attack Avith 
a dexterity that sets all our other Flycatchers at defiance. I have 
opened, from time to time, great numbers of these birds ; have exam- 
ined the contents of the stomach Avith suitable glasses, and, in three 
cases out of four, have found these to consist of broken fragments of 
insects. In many subjects, entire insects of the coleopterous class, 
but very small, Avere found unbroken. The observations of Mr. Coffer, 
as detailed above, and the remarks of my worthy friend Mr. Peale, are 
corroborative of these facts. It is Avell knoAvn that the Humming 
Bird is particularly fond of tubular flowers, Avhere numerous small in- 
sects of this kind resort to feed on the farina, &lc. ; and there is every 
reason for believing that he is as often in search of these insects as of 
honey, and that the former compose at least as great a portion of his 
usual sustenance as the latter. If this food be so necessary for the 
parents, there is no doubt but the young also occasionally partake of it 

To enumerate all the floAvers of Avhich this little bird is fond, Avould 
be to repeat the names of half our American Flora. From the blos- 
soms of the towering poplar or tulip-tree, through a thousand inter- 



120 HUMMING BIRD. 

mediate flowers, to those of the humble larkspur, he ranges at will, 
and almost incessantly. Every period of the season produces a fresh 
multitude of new favorites. Towards the month of September, there 
is a yellow flower which grows in great luxuriance along the sides 
of creeks and rivers, and in low, moist situations ; it grows to the 
height of two or three feet, and the flower, which is about tlie size of 
a thimble, hangs in the shape of a cap of liberty above a luxuriant 
growth of green leaves. It is the Balsamina noli me tangere of bot- 
anists, and is the greatest favorite witli the Humming Bird of all our 
other flowers. In some places, where these plants abound, you may 
see, at one time, ten or twelve Humming Birds darting about, and 
fighting witli and pursuing each otlier. About the 20th of September 
they generally retire to tlie soutli. I have, indeed, sometimes seen a 
solitary individual on the 28th and 30th of that month, and sometimes 
even in October; but these cases are rare. About the beginning of 
November, they pass the soutiiern boundary of the United States into 
Florida, 

The Humming Bird is three inches and a half in length, and four 
and a quarter in extent ; the whole back, upper part of the neck, sides 
under the wings, tail-coverts, and two middle feathers of the tail, are 
of a rich, golden green ; the tail is forked, and, as well as the wings, 
of a deep brownish purple ; the bill and eyes are black ; the legs and 
feet, both of Avhich are extremely small, are also black ; the bill is 
straight, very slender, a little inflated at the tip, and very incompetent 
to the exploit of penetrating the tough, sinewy side of a Crow, and 
precipitating it from the clouds to the earth, as Charlevoix would per- 
suade his readers to believe.* The nostrils are two small, oblong slits, 
situated at the base of the upper mandible, scarcely perceivable when 
the bird is dead, though very distinguishable and prominent when 
living ; the sides of the belly, and belly itself, dusky white, mixed 
with green ; but what constitutes the chief ornament of this little 
bird is tlie splendor of the featliers of his throat, which, when placed 
in a proper position, gloM^ with all the brilliancy of the ruby. These 
feathers are of singular strength and texture, lying close together like 
scales, and vary, when moved before the eye, from a deep black to a 
fiery crimson and burning orange. The female is destitute of tliis 
ornament, but differs little in otlier appearance from the male ; her 
tail is tipped with white, and the whole lower parts are of tlie same 
tint The young birds of the first season, both male and female, have 
the tail tipped with white, and the whole lower parts nearly white ; in 
the month of September, the ornamental feathers on tlie throat of the 
young males begin to appear. 

On dissection, the heart was found to be remarkably large, nearly 
as big as the cranium ; and tlie stomach, tliough distended with food, 
uncommonly small, not exceeding the globe of the eye, and scarcely 
more than one sixth part as large as the heart; the fibres of the last 
were also exceedingly strong. The brain was in large quantity, and 
very thin ; the tongue, from the tip to an extent equal with tlie length 
of the bill, was perforated, fonning two closely-attached parallel and 
cylindrical tubes ; the otlier extremities of the tongue corresponded 

* Histoire de la Nouvelle France, in. p. ISo. 



TOWHE BUNTING. 121 

exactly to those of the Woodpecker, passing up the hind head, and 
reaching to the base of the upper mandible. These observations 
were verified in five different subjects, all of whose stomachs con- 
tained fragments of insects, and some of them whole ones. 



TOWHE BUNTING. — EMBERIZA ERYTHROPTHALMA.— 
Fig. 42. 

Fringilla erythropthalma, Linn. Sijsf. p. 318, 6. — Le Pinson de la Caroline, Briss. 
Orn. iii. p. 1G9, 44. — Buff. Ois. iv. p. 141. — Lath. ii. p. 199, No. 43. — Catesb. 
C%r. i. plate 34. — Pea/e'-s Museum, No. 5970. 

PIPILO ERYTHROPTHALMA. — Y1T.11.1.0T. 

Pipllo erythropthalma, Vieill. Gal. des Ow. plate 80. — Fringilla erythropthalma, 
Bonap. Synop. p. 112. — The Towhe Buntmg, And. plate 29, male and female j 
Oni. Biog. i. p. 150. 

This is a very common, but humble and inoffensive species, fre- 
quenting close-sheltered thickets, where it spends most of its time in 
scratching up the leaves for worms, and for the larvsB and eggs of 
insects. It is far from being shy, frequently suffering a person to 
walk round the bush or thicket, where it is at work, without betraying 
any marks of alarm, and when disturbed, uttering the notes tow-M 
repeatedly. At times the male mounts to the top of a small tree, and 
chants his few, simple notes for an hour at a time. These are loud, 
not unmusical, something resembling those of the Yellow Hammer 
of Britain, but more mellow and more varied. He is fond of thickets 
with a southern exposure, near streams of water, and where there is 
plenty of dry leaves ; and is found, generally, over the whole United 
States. He is not gregarious, and you seldom see more than two 
together. About the middle or 20th of April, they arrive in Penn- 
sylvania, and begin building about the first week in May. The nest 
is fixed on the ground among the dry leaves, near, and sometimes 
under, a thicket of briers, and is large and substantial. The outside 
is formed of leaves and dry pieces of grape-vine bark, and the inside, 
of fine stalks of dried grass, the cavity completely sunk beneath the 
surface of the ground, and sometimes half covered above with dry 
grass or hay. The eggs are usually five, of a pale flesh color, 
thickly marked with specks of rufous, most numerous near the great 
end. The young are produced about the beginning of June, 
and a second brood commonly succeeds in the same season. This 
bird rarely winters north of the state of Maryland, retiring from 
Pennsylvania to the south about the 12th of October. Yet in the 
middle districts of Virginia, and thence south to Florida, I found it 
abundant during the months of January, February, and March. Its 
usual food is obtained by scratching up the leaves ; it also feeds, like 
the rest of its tribe, on various hard seeds and gravel, but rarely 
commits any depredations on the harvest of the husbandman, gener- 
11 



122 TOWHE BUNTING. 

ally preferring the woods, and traversing the bottom of fences shel- 
tered with briers. He is generally very plump and fat ; and, when 
confined in a cage, soon becomes familiar. In Virginia, he is called 
the Bullfinch ; in many places, the Towhe Bird ; in Pennsylvania, the 
Chewink, and by others, the Swamp Robin. He contributes a little to 
the harmony of our woods in spring and summer ; and is remarkable 
for the cunning with which he conceals his nest. He shows great 
affection for his young, and the deepest marks of distress on the ap- 
pearance of their mortal enemy, the black snake. 

The specific name which Linnaeus has bestowed on this bird, is 
deduced from the color of the iris of its eye, which, in those that visit 
Pennsylvania, is dark red. But I am suspicious that this color is not 
permanent, but subject to a periodical change. I examined a great 
number of these birds in the month of March, in Georgia, every one 
of whicli had the iris of the eye white. Mr. Abbot, of Savannah, 
assured me that, at this season, every one of these birds he shot had 
the iris white, while at other times it was red ; and Mr. Elliot, of 
Beaufort, a judicious naturalist, informed me, that in the month of 
February he killed a Towhe Bunting with one eye red and the other 
white ! It should be observed that the iris of the young bird's eye is 
of a chocolate color during its residence in Pennsylvania : perhaps 
this may brighten into a white during winter, and these may have 
been all birds of the preceding year, which had not yet received the 
full color of the eye. 

The Towhe Bunting is eight inches and a half long, and eleven 
broad; above, black, which also descends, rounding on the breast, the 
sides of which are bright bay, spreading along under the wings ; the 
belly is white ; the vent, pale rufous ; a spot of white marks the wing 
just below the coverts, and another a little below that extends 
obliquely across the primaries ; the tail is long, nearly even at the 
end ; the three exterior feathers, white for an inch or so from the tips, 
the outer one wholly white, the middle ones black ; the bill is black ; 
the legs and feet, a dirty flesh color, and strong, for scratching up the 
ground. The female differs in being of a light reddish broAvn in 
those parts where the male is black, and in having tlie bill more of a 
liofht horn color.* 



* Mr. Swainson makes Pipilo a sub-genus among the Sparrows. Six species 
have been described, and tlie above-mentioned gentleman has lately received two 
in addition. They are confined to both continents of America, and the species of 
our author was considered as tlie only one belonging to the northern parts ; tlie 
Northern ZooIo<jt/ will give to the public a second under the title JPipilo arctica, 
which was only mot with on the plains of the Saskatchewan, where it was supposed 
to breed, from a specimen being killed late in July. It frequents shady and moist 
clumps of wood, and is generally seen on the ground. It feeds on grubs ; is a 
solitary and retired, but not distrustful bird. It approaches nearest to the Mexican 
Pipilo mticnlata, Sw. 

Mr. Audubon says, " The haunts of the Towhe Bunting are dry, barren tracts, 
but not, as others have said, low and swampy grounds, at least during the season 
of incubation." The name of Sica?np Kol>in\^ ould indicate something the reverse 
of this, and provincial names are generally pretty correct in iheir application; dif- 
ferent habits may perhaps be sought at" difVercMit seasons. In " tlie Barrens of 
Kentucky they are founcl in the greatest .nbundance. They rest upon the ground 
at night. Their migrations are performed by day, from bush to bush ; and they 



CARDINAL GROSBEAK. 123 



CARDINAL GROSBEAK. — LOXL\ CARDINALIS. 
Figs. 43, 44. 



Linn. Sijst. i. p. 300, No. 5. — Le Gros-bec de Virginie, Briss. Om. iii. p. 255. 
No. ll. — Buf. iii. p. 458, pi. 28. PL enl. SI. — Lath. Syn. ii. p. 118, No. 13.— 
Cardinal, Brown's Jam. p. Gil. — Peak's Museum, No. 3668. 



GUJlRIC.a C^RDIJ^J-jlLIS. — Syv j^ijisoy. 
Fringilla cardinalis, Bonap. Synop. p. 113. 

This is one of our most common cage birds ; and is very generally 
known, not only in North America, but even in Europe, numbers of 
tliem having been carried over both to France and England, in which 
last country they are usually called Virginia Nightingales. To this 
name, Dr. Latham observes, " they are fully entitled," from the clear- 
ness and variety of their notes, which, botJi in a wild and domestic 
state, are very various and musical : many of them resemble the high 
notes of a fife, and are nearly as loud. They are in song from March 
to September, beginning at the first appearance of dawn, and repeat- 
ing a favorite stanza, or passage, twenty or thirty times successively ; 
sometimes, with little intermission, for a whole morning together, 
which, like a good story too often repeated, becomes at length tire- 
some and insipid. But the sprightly figure and gaudy plumage of 
the Red-Bird, his vivacity, strength of voice, and actual variety of 
note, and the little expense with which he is kept, will always make 
him a favorite. 

This species, like the Mocking Bird, is more numerous to the east 
of the great range of the Alleghany Mountains, and inliabits from New 
England to Carthagena. Michaux the younger, son to the celebrated 
botanist, informed me, that he found this bird numerous in the Bermu- 
das. In Pennsylvania and the Northern States, it is rather a scarce 
species ; but through the whole lower parts of the Southern States, in 
tlie neighborhood of settlements, I found them much more numerous ; 
their clear and lively notes, in the months of January and February, 
being, at that time, almost the only music of tlie season. Along the 
road sides and fences I found them hovering in half dozens together, 
associated with Snow Birds, and various kinds of Sparrows. In the 
Northern States, they are migratory ; but in the lower parts of 
Pennsylvania, they reside during the Avhole year, frequenting the bor- 
ders of creeks and rivulets, in sheltered hollows, covered with holly, 
laurel, and other evergreens. They love also to reside in tlie vicinity 
of fields of Indian corn, a grain that constitutes their chief and favor- 
ite food. The seeds of apples, cherries, and of many other sorts of 
fruit, are also eaten by them ; and they are accused of destroying bees. 

seoni to be much at a loss when a larg^c extent of forest is to be traversed by them. 
Tliey perform these journeys almost singly. The females set out before the males 
iu autumn, the males before the females in spring' ; the latter not appearing in the 
middle districts until the end of April, a fortnight after the males had arrived." 
— Ed. 



124 CARDINAL GROSBEAK. 

In the months of March and April, the males have many violent 
engagements for their favorite females. Early in May, in Pennsylva- 
nia, they begin to prepare their nest, which is very often fixed in a 
holly, cedar, or laurel bush. Outwardly, it is constructed of small 
twigs, tops of dry weeds, and slips of vine bark, and lined with stalks 
of fine grass. The female lays four eggs, thickly marked all over with 
touches of brownish olive, on a dull M'hite ground, as represented in 
the figure ; and they usually raise two broods in the season. These 
birds are rarely raised from the nest for singing, being so easily taken 
in trap-cages, and soon domesticated. By long confinement, and per- 
haps unnatural food, they are found to fade in color, becoming of a 
pale whitish red. If w^ell taken care of, however, they will live to a 
considerable age. There is at present in Mr. Peale's museum, the 
stuffed skin of one of these birds, which is there said to have lived in 
a cage upwards of twenty-one years. 

The opinion which so generally prevails in England, that the music 
of the groves and woods of America is far inferior to that of Europe, 
I, who have a thousand times listened to both, cannot admit to be cor- 
rect We cannot with fairness draw a comparison between the depth 
of the forest in America, and the cultivated fields of England ; because 
it is a well-known fact, that singing birds seldom frequent the former 
in any country. But let the latter places be compared Avith the like 
situations in the United States, and the superiority of song, 1 am fully 
persuaded, would justly belong to tlie western continent The few of 
our song birds that have visited Europe extort admiration from the 
best judges. "The notes of the Cardinal Grosbeak," says Latham, 
" are almost equal to those of the Nightingale." Yet these notes, 
clear and excellent as they are, are far inferior to those of the Wood 
Thrush, and even to those of the Brown Thrush, or Thrasher. Our 
inimitable Mocking Bird is also acknowledged, by tliemselves, to be 
fully equal to the song of tlie Nightingale, " in its whole compass." 
Yet these are not one tenth of the number of our singing birds. 
Could these people be transported to the borders of our woods and set- 
tlements, in the montli of May, about half an hour before sunrise, such 
a ravishing concert would greet tlieir ear as they have no concep- 
tion of. 

The males of the Cardinal Grosbeak, when confined together in a 
cage, fight violently. On placing a looking-glass before tlie cage, 
the gesticulations of the tenant are truly laughable ; yet with this he 
soon becomes so well acquainted, that, in a short time, he takes no 
notice whatever of it; a pretty good proof tliat he has discovered the 
true cause of the appearance to proceed from himself. Tliey are 
hardy birds, easily kept, sing six or eiglit months in the year, and are 
most lively in wet weatiier. They are generally known by the names, 
Red-Bird, Virginia Red-Bird, Virgmia Nightinoale, and Crested Red- 
Bird, to distinguish them from another beautiful species, the Scarlet 
Tanager, Figs. 45 and AG. 

I do not know that any successful attempts have been made to in- 
duce these birds to pair and breed in confinement ; but I liave no 
doubt of its practicability, by proper management. Some months 
ago, I placed a young, unfledged Cow-Bird, (the Fringilla pecoris of 
Turton,) whose mother, like the Cuckoo of Europe, abandons her 



SCARLET TANAGER 125 

eggs and progeny to the mercy and management of other smaller 
birds, in the same cage with a Red-Bird, wliich fed and reared it with 
great tenderness. They both continue to inhabit the same cage, and 
I have hopes that the Red-Bird will finish his pupil's education by 
teaching him his song. 

I must here remark, for the information of foreigners, that the story 
told by Le Page du Pratz, in his Historij of Louisiana., and which has 
been so often repeated by other writers, that the Cardinal Grosbeak 
" collects together great hoards of maize and buck-wheat, often as 
much as a bushel, which it artfully covers with leaves and small twigs, 
leaving only a small hole for entrance into the magazine," is entirely 
fabulous. 

This species is eight inches long, and eleven in extent ; the whole 
upper parts are a dull, dusky red, except the sides of the neck and 
head, which, as well as the whole lower parts, are bright vermilion ; 
chin, front, and lores, black ; the head is ornamented with a high, 
pointed crest, which it frequently erects in an almost perpendicular 
position, and can also flatten at pleasure, so as to be scarcely percep- 
tible ; the tail extends three inches beyond the wings, and is nearly 
even at the end ; the bill is of a brilliant coralline color, very tliick 
and powerful, for breaking hard grain and seeds ; the legs and feet, a 
light clay color, (not blood red, as Buifon describes them ;) iris of the 
eye, dark hazel. The female (Fig. 44) is less than the male, has the 
upper parts of a brownish olive, or drab color, the tail, wings, and tip 
of the crest excepted, which are nearly as red as those of the male ; 
the lores, front, and chin, are light ash ; breast, and lower parts, a 
reddish drab ; bill, legs, and eyes, as those of the male ; the crest is 
shorter, and less frequently raised. 

One peculiarity in the female of this species is, that she often sings 
nearly as well as the male. I do not know whether it be owing to 
some little jealousy on this score or not, that the male, when both 
occupy the same cage, very often destroys tlie female. 



SCARLET TANAGER. — TANAGRA RUBRA. — Figs. 45, 46. 

Tanagra rubra, Lynn. Syst. i. p. 314, 3. — Cardinal de Canada, Briss. Om. iii. p. 
48, pi. 2, fig. 5. — Lath. ii. p. 217, No. 3. — Scarlet Sparrow, Edw. pi. 343.— 
Canada Tanager, and Olive Tanager, Arct. Zool. p. 369, No. 237, 238.— 
Peales Museum, No. 6128. 

PYRAJ<-GA* RUBRji.—SwAiTisoti. 

Pyranga eryihropis, Vieill. Enc. Method, p. 793. — Tanagra rubra, Bonap. Synop, 
p. 105. — Pyranga rubra. North. Zool. ii. p. 273. 

This is one of the gaudy foreigners (and perhaps the most showy) 
that regularly visit us from the torrid regions of the south. He is 

* Pyranga has been established for the reception of this bird as the type, and a 
few otiiers, all natives of the New World, and more particularly inhabiting tbo 
11* 



126 SCARLET TANAGER. 

dressed in the richest scarlet, set off with the most jetty black, and 
comes, over extensive countries, to sojourn for a time among us. 
While we consider him entitled to all the rights of hospitality, we 
may be permitted to examine a little into his character, and endeavor 
to discover whether he has any thing else to recommend him, besides 
that of having a fine coat, and being a great traveller. 

On or about the first of May, this bird makes his appearance in 
Pennsylvania. He spreads over the United States, and is found even 
in Canada. He rarely approaches the habitations of man, unless, 
perhaps, to the orchard, where he sometimes builds, or to the clieny- 
trees, in search of fruit. The depth of the woods is his favorite 
abode. There, among the thick foliage of the tallest trees, his simple 
and almost monotonous notes, chip, chwr, repeated at short intervals, in 
a pensive tone, may be occasionally heard, which appear to proceed 
from a considerable distance, though the Ijird be immediately above 
you, — a faculty bestowed on him by the beneficent Author of 'Nature, 
no doubt, for his protection, to compensate, in a degree, for the danger 
to which his glowing color would often expose him. Besides this 
usual note, he has, at times, a more musical chant, something resem- 
bling in mellowness that of the Baltimore Oriole. His food consists 
of large-winged insects, such as wasps, hornets, and humble-bees, and 
also of fruit, particularly those of that species of Vaccinhnn usually 
called huckle-berries, which, in their S'.-ason, form almost his whole 
fare. His nest is built, about the middle of May, on the horizontal 
branch of a tree, sometimes an apple-tree, and is but sliglUly put to- 
gether ; stalks of broken flax and dry grass, so thinly woven together, 
that the light is easily perceivable througli it, fonii the repository of 
his young. The eggs are three, of a dull blue, spotted with broMn or 
purple. They rarely raise more than one brood in a season, and leave 
us for the south about the last week in August 

Among all the birds that inhabit our woods, there is none that 
strikes the eye of a stranger, or even a native, with so much brilliancy 
as this. Seen among the green leaves, with the light falling strongly 
on his plumage, he really aj^pears beautiful. If he has little of melody 
in his notes to charm us, he has nothing in them to disgust. His 
manners are modest, easy, and inoffensive. He commits no depreda- 
tions on the property of the husbandman, but rather benefits him by 
the daily destruction, in spring, of many noxious insects ; and, when 
winter approaches, he is no plundering dependent, but seeks, in a dis- 
tant country, for that sustenance which the severity of the season 
denies to his industry in this. He is a striking ornament to our rural 
scenery, and none of the meanest of our rural songsters. Such being 
tlie true traits of his character, we shall always with pleasure welcome 
this beautiful, inoffensive stranger to our orchards, groves, and forests. 

warmer parts of it. Tlif proseiU spocios is, indeed, the only one wliirh is common 
to the north and soulli continonts ; and, in the former, it ranks only as a summer 
visitant. They are all of very hritj^lit colors, and distinct markinjjs. They are 
distiiignishecl from the Inie Tanac^ers, by their stout and rounded bill, slisrhtly 
notched, bent at the tip. and lia\ in^ a jntti"nn^-out. blunt tooth about the middle of the 
upper mandil)le^ 'I'liey are nlai'ed by Dcsniarest among his Tanotrras coi/iinem. 
or Shrike-like Tana^^ers ; anu by Lesson amonj;: the IhrMo^ras car(li7i(i/€s. The lat 
ter writer enumerates only three species belonging to his ^insion. — Ed. 



SCARLET TANAGER. 127 

The male of tliis species, (Fio^. 45,) when arrived at his full size and 
colors, is six inches and a half in length, and ten and a half broad. 
The whole plumage is of a most brilliant scarlet, except the wings 
and tail, which are of a deep black ; the latter, handsomely forked, 
sometimes minutely tipped with white, and the interior edges of the 
wing-feathers nearly white ; the bill is strong, considerably inflated, 
like those of his tribe, the edge of tlie iipper mandible, somewhat 
irregular, as if toothed, and the whole of a dirty gamboge, or yellow- 
ish liorn color ; this, however, like that of most other birds, varies 
according to the season. About the 1st of August he begins to moult ; 
the young feathers coming out, of a greenish yellow color, until he 
appears nearly all dappled with spots of scarlet and greenish yellow. 
In tliis state of plumage he leaves us. How long it is before he re- 
covers his scarlet dress, or whether he continues of this greenish color 
all winter, I am unable to say. The iris of the eye is of a cream 
color ; the legs and feet, light blue. The female. Fig. 46, (now, I be- 
lieve, for the first time figured,) is green above, and yellow below ; the 
wings and tail, brownish black, edged with green. The young birds, 
din-ing their residence here the first season, continue nearly of the 
same color with the female. In this circumstance we again recognize 
the wise provision of the Deity, in thus clothing the female and the 
inexperienced young in a garb so favorable for concealment among 
the foliage ; as the weakness of the one, and the frequent visits of 
the other to her nest, would greatly endanger the safety of all. That 
the young males do not receive their red plumage until the early part 
of tlie succeedmg spring, I think highly probable, from the circum- 
stance of frequently finding their red feathers, at that season, inter- 
mixed with green ones, and the wings also broadly edged witli green. 
These facts render it also probable that the old males regularly change 
tlieir color, and have a summer and winter dress; but this further ob- 
servations must determine. 

There is in the Brazils a bird of the same genus with this, and very 
much resembling it, so much so as to have been frequently confounded 
witli it by European writers. It is the Tanagra Brazilia of Turton ; 
and, though so like, is yet a very distinct species from the present, as 
I have myself had tlie opportunity of ascertaining, by examining two 
very perfect specimens from Brazil, now in the possession of Mr. Peale, 
and comparing them with this. The principal differences are these : 
The plumage of the Brazilian is almost black at bottom, very deep 
scarlet at the surface, and of an orange tint between ; ours is ash 
colored at bottom, white in the middle, and bright scarlet at top. The 
tail of ours is forked, that of the other cuneiform, or rounded. The 
bill of our species is more inflated, and of a greenish yellow color ; 
the other's is black above, and whitish below, towards the base. The 
whole plumage of the southern species is of a coarser, stiffer quality, 
particularly on the head. The wings and tail, in both, are black. 

In the account which Buffbn gives of the Scarlet Tanager and 
Cardinal Grosbeak, there appears to be very great confusion, and many 
mistakes ; to explain which, it is necessary to observe that INIr. Ed- 
wards, in his figure of the Scarlet Tanager, or Scarlet Sparrow, as he 
calls it, has given it a hanging crest, owing, no doubt, to tlie loose, dis- 
ordered state of the plumage of the stuffed or dried skin from which 



128 SCARLET TANAGER. 

he made his drawing. Buffon has afterwards confounded the two 
together, by applying many stories, originally related of the Cardinal 
Grosbeak, to the Scarlet Tanager, and the following he gravely gives 
as his reason for so doing : " We may presume," says he, " that when 
travellers talk of the warble of the Cardinal, they mean the Scarlet 
Cardinal, for the other Cardinal is of the genus of tlie Grosbeaks, 
consequently a silent bird." * This silent bird, however, has been 
declared by an eminent English naturalist to be almost equal to their 
own Nightingale ! The count also quotes the following passage from 
Charlevoix to prove the same point, which, if his translator has done 
him justice, evidently proves the reverse. "It is scarcely more tlian 
a hundred leagues," says this traveller, " south of Canada that the 
Cardinal begins to be seen. Their song is sweet, their plumage 
beautiful, and their head wears a crest" But the Scarlet Tanager is 
found even in Canada, as well as a hundred leagues to the south, 
while the Cardinal Grosbeak is not found in any great numbers north 
of Maryland. The latter, therefore, it is highly probable, was the 
bird meant by Charlevoix, and not the Scarlet Tanager. Buifon also 
quotes an extract of a letter from Cuba, which, if the circumstance it 
relates be true, is a singular proof of the estimation in which the 
Spaniards hold the Cardinal Grosbeak. " On Wednesday arrived at 
the port of Havannah, a bark from Florida, loaded with Cardinal birds, 
skins, and fruit The Spaniards bought the Cardinal birds at so high 
a price as ten dollars apiece ; and, notwithstanding the public distress, 
spent on them the sum of 18,000 dollars ! " * 

With a few facts more I shall conclude the history of the Scarlet 
Tanager : When you approach the nest, the male keeps cautiously at 
a distance, as if fearful of being seen ; while the female hovers around 
in the greatest agitation and distress. When the young leave the 
nest, the male parent takes a most active part in feeding and attend- 
ing them, and is then altogether indifferent of concealment 

Passing through an orchard one morning, I caught one of these young 
birds, that had but lately left the nest. I carried it with me about half 
a mile, to show it to my friend, Mr. William Bartram ; and, having 
procured a cage, hung it up on one of the large pine-trees in the 
botanic garden, within a few feet of the nest of an Orchard Oriole, 
which also contained young ; hopeful that the charity or tenderness of 
the Orioles would induce them to supply the cravings of the stranger. 
But charity with them, as with too many of the human race, began and 
ended at home. The poor orphan was altogether neglected, notwith- 
standing its plaintive cries ; and, as it refused to be fed by me, I was 
about to return it back to the place where I found it, when, towards the 
aflernoon, a Scarlet Tanager, no doubt its own parent, was seen fiuttei- 
ing round the cage, endeavoring to get in. Finding this impracticable, 
he flew off, and soon returned with food in his bill, and continued to 
feed it till afler sunset, taking up his lodgings on the higher branches 
of tlie same tree. In the morning, almost as soon as day broke, he 
was again seen most actively engaged in tlie same affectionate man- 
ner ; and, notwithstanding the insolence of the Orioles, continued his 
benevolent offices the whole day, roosting at night as before. On the 

* Buffos, vol. iv. p. 209. f Gmelli Garebi. 



RICE BUNTING. 129 

third or fourth day. he appeared extremely sohcitous for the liberation 
of his charge, using every expression of distressful anxiety, and every 
call and invitation that nature had put in his power, for him to come 
out. This Avas too mucli for the feelings of my venerable friend ; he 
procured a ladder, and, mounting to the spot where the bird was sus- 
pended, opened the cage, took out the prisoner, and restored him to 
liberty and to his parent, who, with notes of great exultation, accom- 
panied his flight to the woods. The happiness of my good friend was 
scarcely less complete, and showed itself in his benevolent countenance ; 
and I could not refrain saying to myself, — If such sweet sensations 
can be derived from a single circumstance of this kind, how exquisite 
— how unspeakably rapturous — must the delight of those individuals 
have been, who have rescued their fellow-beings from death, chains, 
and imprisonment, and restored them to the arms of their friends and 
relations ! Surely, in such godlike actions, virtue is its own most abun- 
dant reward. 



RICE BUNTING. — EMBERIZA ORYZIVORA. — Figs. 47, 48. 

Emberiza oryzivora, Linn. Si/sf. p. 311, 16. — Le Ortolan da la Caroline, iim^. 
Orn. iii. p. 282, 8, pi. 15, fig. 3. PI. enl. 388. fig. 1. — L'Agripenne ou Tortolan 
de Riz, Buff. Ois. iv. p. 337. — Rice Bird, Catesb. Car. i. pi. U. — Edw. pi. 2. 
— Lathani^W. p. 188, No. '25. — Peak's Museum, No. 6026. 

DOLYCHOJ\rYX ORYZIFORUS. — SwjuNsoy. 

Icterus agripennis, Bonap. Synop. p. 53. — Dolychonyx oryzivorus, Sw. Synop. 
Birch of Mexico, 435. — North. Zool. ii. p. Tl8. — Aud. pi. 54. Orn. Biog. i. 
p. 283. 

This is the Bohlink of the Eastern and Northern States, and the Rice 
and Reed Bird of Pennsylvania and the Southern States. Though small 
in size, he is not so in consequence ; his coming is hailed by the 
sportsman with pleasure ; while the careful planter looks upon him as 
a devouring scourge, and worse than a plague of locusts. Three good 
qualities, however, entitle him to our notice, particularly as these three 
are rarely found in the same individual, — his plumage is beautiful, his 
song highly musical, and his flesh excellent. I might also add, that 
the immense range of his migrations, and the havock he commits, are 
not the least interesting parts of his history.* 

* To Wilson's interesting account of the habits of this curious bird, Mr. Audubon 
adds the following particulars : — In Louisiana they pass under the name of 
Meadow Birds, and they arrive there in small flocks of males and females about 
the middle of March or beginning' of April. Their song in spring is extremely in- 
teresting, and, emitted wiih a volubility bordering on the burlesque, is heard from 
a whole party at the same time, and it becomes amusing to hear thirty or forty of 
them beginning one after another, as if ordered to follow in quick succession, after 
the first notes are given by a leader, and producing- such a medley as it is impos- 
sible to describe, although it is extremely pleasant to near. While you are listening', 
the whole flock simultaneously ceases, which appears equally extraordinary. This 
curious exhibition takes place every time the flock has alighted on a tree. 

Another curious fact mentioned by this gentleman is, that during their spring 



130 RICE BUNTING. 

The winter residence of this species I suppose to be from Mexico 
to the mouth of the Amazon, from Avhence, in hosts innumerable, they 
regularly issue every spring ; perhaps to both hemispheres, extending 
their migrations northerly as far as the banks of the Illinois and the 
shores of the St Lawrence. Could tlie fact be ascertained, which has 
been asserted by some writers, that the emigration of these birds was 
altogether unknown in this part of tlie continent, previous to the intro- 
duction of rice plantations, it would certainly be interesting. Yet, 
why should these migrations reach at least a thousand miles beyond 
tliose places where rice is now planted ; and this, not in occasional 
excursions, but regularly to breed, and rear their young, where rice 
never was, and probably never will be, cultivated ? Their so recent 
arrival on this part of the continent, I believe to be altogetlier imagi- 
nar}'', because, though there were not a single grain of rice cultivated 
within the United States, tlie country produces an exuberance of 
food of which they are no less fond. Insects of various kinds, grubs, 
May-flies, and caterpillars, the young ears of Indian corn, and tlie seed 
of tlie wild oats, or, as it is called in Pennsylvania, reeds, (tlie Zizania 
aquaUca of Linnaeus,) which grows in prodigious abundance along the 
marshy shores of our large rivers, furnish, not only them, but millions 
of Rail, with a delicious subsistence for several weeks. I do not doubt, 
however, that the introduction of rice, but more particularly the 
progress of agriculture, in this part of America, has greatly increased 
their numbers, by multiplying their sources of subsistence fifty fold 
within the same extent of country. 

In the month of April, or very early in INIay, tlie Rice Bunting, male 
and female, in the dresses in which they appear in Figs. 47 and 48, 
arrive within the southern boundaries of the United States, and are 
seen around the town of Savannah in Georgia, about tlie 4tli of May, 
sometimes in separate parties of males and females, but more generally 
promiscuously. They remain tliere but a short time ; and, about the 
r2th of May, make their appearance in the lower parts of Pennsyl- 
vania, as they did at Savannah. While here, the males are extremely 
gay and full of song ; frequenting meadoAvs, newly-ploughed fields, 
sides of creeks, rivers, and watery places, feeding on May-flies and 
caterpillars, of which they destroy great quantities. In their passage, 
however, through Virginia, at this season, they do great damage to tlie 
early wheat and barley, while in its milky state. About the 20th of 
May, they disappear, on their way to the north. Nearly at tlie same 
time, they arrive in the state of New York, spread over tlie whole New 
England States, as far as the River St Lawrence, from Lake Ontario to 
the sea ; in all of which places, north of Pennsylvania, they remain 
during the summer, building, and rearing their young. The nest is 
fixed in the ground, generally in a field of grass ; the outside is com- 
posed of dry leaves and coarse grass, tlie inside is lined witli fine 
stalks of the same, laid in considerable quantity. The female lays 
five eggs, of a bluish white, marked with numerous, irregular spots of 
blackish brown. The song of the male, Avhile the female is sitting, is 
singular, and very agreeable. Mounting and hovering on wing, at a 

migrations eastward, they fly mostly at night ; whereas, in autimin, when they are 
retuniiug soutliward, their fliglit is diurnal. — Eu. 



RICE BUNTING. 131 

small height above the field, he chants out such a jingling medley 
of short, variable notes, uttered Avith such seeming confusion and 
rapidity, and continued for a considerable time, that it appears as if 
half a dozen birds of different kinds were all singing together. Some 
idea may be formed of this song by striking tJie high keys of a piano- 
forte at random, singly and quickly, making as many sudden contrasts 
of high and low notes as possible. Many of the tones are, in them- 
selves, charming ; but they succeed each other so rapidly, that the ear 
can hardly separate them. Nevertheless, the general effect is good ; 
and, when ten or twelve are all singing on the same tree, the concert 
is singularly pleasing. I kept one of these birds for a long time, to 
observe its change of color. During the Avhole of April, May, and 
June, it sang almost continually. In the month of June, the color of 
the male begins to change, gradually assimilating to that of the female, 
and before the beginning of August it is difficult to distinguish the 
one from the other, both being then in the dress of Fig. 48. At tliis 
time, also, the young birds are so much like the female, or rather like 
both parents, and the males so different in appearance from Avhat tiiey 
were in spring, that thousands of people in Pennsylvania, to this day, 
persist in believing them to be a different species altogether ; while 
otliers allow them, indeed, to be the same, but confidently assert tliat 
they are all females — none but females, according to them, returning 
in the fall ; what becomes of the males they are totally at a loss to 
conceive. Even Mr. Mark Catesby, who resided for years in the coun- 
try they inhabit, and who, as he himself informs us, examined by dis- 
section great numbers of them in the fall, and repeated his experi- 
ment the succeeding year, lest he should have been mistaken, declares 
that he uniformly found them to be females. These assertions must 
appear odd to the inhabitants of the Eastern States, to whom the 
change of plumage in these birds is familiar, as it passes immediately 
under their eye ; and also to those who, like myself, have kept them 
in cages, and witnessed their gradual change of color.* That accu- 
rate observer, Mr. William Bartram, appears, from the following 
extract, to have taken notice of, or at least suspected, this change of 
color in these birds, more than forty years ago. " Being in Charles- 
ton," says he, " in the month of June, I observed a cage full of Rice 
Birds, that is, of the yellow, or female color, who were very merry 
and vociferous, having the same variable music Avith the pied, or male 
bird, which I thought extraordinary, and, observing it to the gentle- 
man, he assured me that they were all of the male kind, taken the pre- 
ceding spring, but had changed their color, and would be next spring 
of the color of the pied, thus changing color with the seasons of the 
year. If this is really the case, it appears they are both of the same 
species intermixed, spring and fall." Without, however, implicating 
the veracity of Catesby, who, I have no doubt, believed as he wTote, 
a few words will easily explain why he was deceived : The internal 

* The beautiful plumag-e of the male represented on the plate, is that during- the 
breeding season, and is lost as soon as the duties incumbent thereon are ( ompleted. 
In this we have a striking" analogy with some nearly allied African Fniiffilliihv. 

The genus Dohjconyx has been made by Mr. Swainson to contain this curious 
zuid interesting form : by that gentleman it is placed in the aberrant families of the 
Stumidce. — Ed. 



132 RICE BUNTING. 

organization of undomesticated birds, of all kinds, undergoes a re- 
markable cliange every spring and summer; and those who wish to 
ascertain this point by dissection will do well to remember, that in this 
bird those parts that characterize the male are, in autumn, no larger 
than the smallest pin's head, and in young birds of the first year can 
scarcely be discovered ; though in spring their magnitude in each is 
at least one hundred times greater. To an unacquaintance with this 
extraordinary circumstance, I am persuaded, has been owing the mis- 
take of Mr. Catesby, that the females only return in the fall ; for the 
same opinion I long entertained myself, till a more particular examina- 
tion showed me the source of my mistake. Since that, I have opened 
and examined many hundreds of these birds, in the months of Sep- 
tember and October, and, on the whole, have found about as many 
males as females among them. The latter may be distinguished from 
the former by being of a rather more shining yellow on the breast and 
belly: it is the same with the young birds of the first season. 

During the breeding season, they are dispersed over the country ; 
but, as soon as the young are able to fly, they collect together in great 
multitudes, and pour down on the oat-fields of New England like a 
torrent, depriving the proprietors of a good tithe of their harvest ; but, 
in return, often supply his table with a very delicious dish. From all 
parts of the north and western regions, they direct their course towards 
tiie south ; and, about the middle of August, revisit Pennsylvania, on 
their route to winter quarters. For several days, they seem to confine 
themselves to the fields and uplands ; but, as soon as the seeds of the 
reed are ripe, tliey resort to the shores of the Delaware and Schuylkill 
in multitudes ; and these places, during the remainder of their stay, 
appear to be their grand rendezvous. The reeds, or wild oats, furnish 
them with such abundance of nutritious food, that in a short time they 
become extremely fat, and are supposed, by some of our epicures, to 
be equal to the famous Ortolans of Europe. Their note at this season 
is a single chink, and is heard overhead, v/ith little intermission, from 
morning to night. These are halcyon days for our gunners of all 
descriptions, and many a lame and rusty gun-barrel is put in requisi- 
tion fi)r the sport. The report of musketry along the reedy shores of 
the Schuylkill and Delaware is almost incessant, resembling a running 
fire. The markets of Philadelphia, at this season, exhibit proofs of 
the prodigious havock made among tliese birds ; for almost every stall 
is ornamented with strings of Reed Birds. This sport, however, is 
considered inferior to that of Rail shooting, which is carried on at the 
same season and places, with equal slaughter. Of this, as well as of 
the Rail itself, we shall give a particular account in its proper place. 

Whatever apology the people of the Eastern and Southern States 
may have for the devastation they spread among the Rice and Reed 
Birds, the Pennsylvanians — at least those living in this part of it — have 
little to plead in justification but the pleasure of destruction, or tlie 
savory dish they furnish their tables with ; for the oat harvest is gen- 
erally secured before the great body of these birds arrive, the Indian 
corn too ripe and liard, and the reeds seem to engross all their atten- 
tion. But in the states south of Maryland, tlie harvest of early wheat 
and barley in sj)ring, and the numerous plantations of rice in fall, 
suffer severely. Early in October, or as soon as tlie nights begin to 



RED-EYED FLYCATCHER. 133 

set in cold, they disappear from Pennsylvania, directing their course 
to the south. At this time they swarm among the rice fields ; and 
appear in the island of Cuba in immense numbers, in search of the 
same delicious grain. About the middle of October, they visit the 
island of Jamaica in equal numbers, where they are called Butter 
Birds. They feed on the seed of the Guinea grass, and are also in 
high esteem there for the table.* 

Thus it appears that the regions nortli of the fortieth degree of 
latitude, are the breeding places of these birds ; that their migrations 
northerly are performed from March to May, and their return southerly 
from August to November ; their precise winter quarters, or farthest 
retreat southerly, are not exactly known. 

The Rice Bunting is seven inches and a half long, and eleven and 
a half in extent. His spring dress is as follows : — Upper part of the 
head, wings, tail, and sides of the neck, and whole lower parts, black ; 
the feathers frequently skirted with brownish yellow, as he passes into 
tlie colors of the female ; back of the head, a cream color ; back, black, 
seamed Avitli brownish yellow ; scapulars, pure Avhite ; rump and tail- 
coverts the same ; lower part of the back, bluish white ; tail, formed 
like those of the Woodpecker genus, and often used in the same man- 
ner, being thrown in to support it while ascending the stalks of the 
reed ; this habit of throwing in the tail it retains even in the cage ; 
legs, a brownish flesh color; hind heel, very long; bill, a bluish horn 
color ; eye, hazel ; see Fig. 47. In the month of June this plumage 
gradually changes to a brownish yellow, like that of the female, (Fig. 
48,) which has the back streaked with brownish black ; whole lower 
parts, dull yellow ; bill, reddish flesh color ; legs and eyes as in the 
male. The young birds retain the dress of the female until the early 
part of the succeeding spring ; the plumage of the female undergoes 
no material change of color. 



RED-EYED FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA OLVIACEA. — 
Fig. 49. 

Linn. Syst. i. j). 327, 14. — Gobe mouche de la Caroline et de la Jamaique, Buff. 
iv. p. 539. Edw. t. 253. — Catcsb. t. 54. — Lath. Syn. iii. p. 351, No. 52. — Musci- 
capa sylvicola, Bartram, p. 290. — Peale's Museum, No. 6675. 

VIREO OZ,/r-./3C£t7S.— Bonaparte. 

Vireo olivaceus, Bmiap. Synop. p. 71. — Vireo olivaceus, Red-eyed Greenlet, 
■ North. ZooL ii. p. 233. 

This is a numerous species, though confined chiefly to the woods 
and forests, and, like all the rest of its tribe that visit Pennsylvania, is 
a bird of passage. It arrives here late in April ; has a loud, lively, 

* Rennel's Hist. Jam. 

12 



134 RED-EYED FLYCATCHER. 

and energetic song, which it continues, as it hunts among the thick 
foliage, sometimes for an hour with little intermission. In the months 
of May, June, and to the middle of July, it is the most distinguishable 
of all the other warblers of the forest ; and even in August, long after 
the rest have almost all become mute, the notes of the Red-eyed Fly- 
catcher are frequently lieard with unabated spirit. These notes are 
in short, emphatical bars, of two, three, or four syllables. In Jamaica, 
where this bird Avinters, and is probably also resident, it is called, as 
Sloan e informs us, Whip-tom-kelly, from an imagined resemblance of 
its notes to these words. And, indeed, on attentively listening for 
some time to this bird in his full ardor of song, it requires but little 
of imagination to fancy that you hear it pronounce these words, " Tom- 
kelly, v\'hip-tom-kelly ! " very distinctly. It inliabits from Georgia to 
the River St. Lawrence, leaving Pennsylvania about the middle of 
September. 

This bird builds, in the month of May, a small, neat, pensile nest, 
generally suspended between two twigs of a young dog-wood or other 
small sapling. It is hung by the two upper edges, seldom at a greater 
height than four or five feet from the ground. It is formed of pieces 
of hornets' nests, some flax, fragments of withered leaves, slips of vine 
bark, bits of paper, all glued together with the saliva of the bird, and 
the silk of caterpillars, so as to be very compact ; the inside is liiicd 
with fine slips of gi-ape-vine bark, fibrous grass, and sometimes h lir. 
These nests are so durable, that I have often known them to resist ■ o 
action of the weather for a year; and, in one instance, I have fou vl 
the nest of the Yellow-Bird built in the cavity of one of those of the 
preceding year. The mice very often take possession of them after 
they are abandoned by the owners. The eggs are four, sometimes 
five, pure white, except near the great end, where they are marked 
with a few small dots of dark brown or reddish. They generally raise 
two broods in the season. 

The Red-eyed Flycatcher is one of the adopted nurses of the Cow 
Bird, and a very favorite one, showing all the symptoms of affection 
for the foundling, and as much solicitude for its safety, as if it were its 
own. The figure of that singular bird, accompanied by a particular 
account of its history, is given in Fig. 83. 

Before I take leave of this bird, it may not be amiss to observe that 
there is another, and a rather less species of Flycatcher, somewhat 
resembling the Red-eyed, which is frequently found in its company. 
Its eyes are hazel ; its back more cinereous than the otlier, and it has 
a single light streak over the eye. The notes of this bird are low, 
somewhat plaintive, but warbled out with great sweetness, and form 
a striking contrast with those of the Red-eyed Flycatcher. I think it 
probable that Dr. Barton had reference to this bird when he made the 
following remarks, (see his lYafcmcnts oftheJVntural Histonj of Penn- 
s}ilvanhi, page li) :) — ^'' Miiscicnpa olivacea. — I do not think with Mr. 
Pennant that this is the same bird as the Whip-tom-kelly of the West 
Indies. Our bird has no such note, but a great variety of soft, tender, 
and agreeable notes. It inhabits forests, and does not, like tlie 
West India bird, build a pendulous nest." Had the learned professor, 
liowever, examined into this matter with his usual accuracy, he would 
have found tliat tlie Muscicapa olivacea, and the soft and tender song- 



MARSH WREN. 135 

ster he mentions, are two very distinct species ; and that both the one 
and the other actually build very curious, pendulous nests. 

This species is five inches and a half long, and seven inches in ex- 
tent ; crown, ash, slightly tinged with olive, bordered on each side with 
a line of black, beloAv which is a line of white passing from the nostril 
over and a little beyond the eye ; the bill is longer than usual with 
birds of its tribe, the upper mandible overhanging the lower consid- 
erably, and notched, dusky above, and light blue below ; all the rest 
of the plumage above is of a yellow olive, relieved on the tail, and at 
the tips of the wings, with brown ; chin, throat, breast, and belly, pure 
white ; inside of tlie wings and vent-feathers, greenish yellow ; the 
tail is very slightly forked ; legs and feet, light blue ; iris of the eye, 
red. The female is marked nearly in the same manner, and is distin- 
guishable only by the greater obscurity of tlie colors. 



MARSH WREN. — CERTHIA PALUSTRIS. — Fig. 50. 

Lath. Syn. Sui)pl. p. 244. — Motacilla palustris, (regnlus minor,) Bartram, p. 291. 
— Peak's Museum, No. 7282. 

TROGLODYTES PALUSTRIS. — Bonaparte. 

Troglodytes palustris, 5onap. Synop. p. 93. — The Marsh Wren, Aud. pi. 100. 
Or7i. Biog. i. p. 500. — iVorf/i. Zool. ii. p. 319. 

This obscure but spirited little species has been almost overlooked 
by the naturalists of Europe, as well as by those of its own country. 
The singular attitude in which it is represented will be recognized, by 
those acquainted with its manners, as one of its most common and 
favorite ones, while skipping through among the reeds and rushes. 
The Marsh Wren arrives in Pennsylvania about the middle of May, or 
ds soon as the reeds and a species of nymphea, usually called splatter- 
docks, which grow in great luxuriance along the tide water of our 
rivers, are sufficiently high to shelter it. To such places it almost 
wholly limits its excursions, seldom venturing far from the river. Its 
food consists of flying insects, and their larvae, and a species of green 
grasshoppers that inhabit the reeds. As to its notes, it would be mere 
burlesque to call them by the name of song. Standing on the reedy 
borders of the Schuylkill or Delaware, in the month of June, you hear 
a low, crackling sound, something similar to that produced by air bub- 
bles forcing their way through mud or boggy ground when trod upon ; 
this is the song of the Marsh Wren. But as, among the human race, 
it is not given to one man to excel in every thing, and yet each, per- 
haps, has something peculiarly his own, so, among birds, we find a 
like distribution of talents and peculiarities. The fittle bird now be- 
fore us, if deficient and contemptible in singing, excels in the art of 
design, and constructs a nest, which, in durability, warmth, and conve- 



136 MARSH WREN. 

nience, is scarcely inferior to one, and far superior to many, of its more 
musical brethren. This is formed outwardly of wet rushes mixed with 
mud, well intertwisted, and fashioned into the form of a cocoa nut. A 
small hole is left two thirds up, for entrance, the upper edge of which 
projects like a pent-house over the lower, to prevent the admission of 
rain. The inside is lined with fine, soft grass, and sometimes feathers ; 
and the outside, when hardened by the sun, resists every kind of weath- 
er. This nest is generally suspended among the reeds, above the 
reach of the highest tides, and is tied so fast in every part to the sur- 
rounding reeds, as to bid defiance to the winds and the waves. The 
eggs are usually six, of a dark fawn color, and very small. The young 
leave the nest about the 20th of June, and tliey generally have a sec- 
ond brood in the same season. 

The size, general color, and habit of this bird of erecting its tail, 
give it, to a superficial observer, something of the appearance of the 
Conmion House Wren, represented in Fig. 31 ; and still more that of 
the Winter Wren, Fig. 34 ; but with the former of these it never asso- 
ciates ; and the latter" has left us some time before the Marsh Wren 
makes his appearance. About the middle of August, they begin to go 
off; and, on the 1st of September, very few of them are to be seen. 
How far north the migrations of this species extend, I am unable to 
say ; none of them, to my knowledge, winter in Georgia, or any of the 
Southern States. 

The JMarsh Wren is five inches long, and six in extent ; the whole 
upper parts are dark brown, except the upper part of the head, back 
of the neck, and middle of the back, which are black, the two last 
streaked with Avhite ; the tail is short, rounded, and barred with black ; 
wings, slightly barred ; a broad strip of white passes over the eye half 
way doAvnthe neck; the sides of the neck are also mottled with touch- 
es of a light clay color on a whitish ground ; whole under parts, pure 
silvery white, except the vent, which is tinged Avith brown; the legs 
are light brown; the hind claw, large, semicircular, and very sharp; 
bill, slender, slightly bent ; nostrils, prominent ; tongue, narrow, very 
tapering, sharp pointed, and horny at the extremity ; eye, hazel. The 
female almost exactly resembles the male in plumage. 

From the above description, and a view of Fig. 50, the naturalist 
will perceive that this species is truly a Certhia, or Creeper ; and in- 
deed its habits confirm this, as it is continually climbing along the 
stalks of reeds, and other aquatic plants, in search of insects. 



GREAT CAROLINA WREN. 137 



GREAT CAROLINA WREN. — CERTHIA CAROLINIANA.— 

Fig. 51. 

Le Roitelet de la Louisiana, PL enl. 730, fig. L — Latli. Syn. vii. p. 507, var. b. — 
Le Troglodytes de la Louisiana, J5?{^. Ois. v. p. 361. — Motacilla Caroliuiana, 
(regulus magnus,) Bartram, p. 29L — Peace's Museum, No. 7248. 

TROGLODYTES LUDOVICMJ^US. — Bonaparte. 

Troglodytes Ludovicianus, Bonap. Synop. p. 93. — The Great Carolina Wren, 
Aud. pi. 78, male and female. Oni. Biog. i. p. 399. 

This is another of those equivocal species that so often occur to 
puzzle the naturalist. The general appearance of this bird is such, that 
the most illiterate would at first sight call it a Wren ; but the Common 
Wren of Europe, and the Winter Wren of the United States, are both 
Warblers, judging them according to the simple principle of Linnaeus. 
The present species, however, and the preceding, ( the Marsh Wren, ) 
tliough possessing great family likeness to those above mentioned, are 
decisively Creepers, if the bill, the tongue, nostrils, and claws, are to 
be the criteria by which we are to class them. 

The color of the plumage of birds is but an uncertain and inconstant 
guide ; and though in some cases it serves to furnish a trivial or specific 
appellation, yet can never lead us to the generic one. I have, there- 
fore, notwithstanding the general appearance of these birds, and the 
practice of former ornithologists, removed them to the genus Certhia, 
from that of Motacilla, where they have hitherto been placed.* 

This bird is frequently seen, early in May, along the shores of the 
Delaware, and other streams that fall into it on both sides, thirty or 
forty miles below Philadelphia ; but is rather rare in Pennsylvania. 
This circumstance is ajittle extraordinary; since, from its size and 
stout make, it would seem more capable of braving the rigors of a 
northern climate than any of the others. It can, however, scarcely be 
called migratory. In the depth of winter I found it numerous in Vir- 
ginia, along the shores and banks of the James River, and its tributary 
streams, and thence as far south as Savannah. I also observed it on 

* Of this bird, and some others, Vieillot formed his genus Tryothorus, containing 
the larger Wrens, with long, and somewhat curved bills, and possessing, if possi- 
ble, more of the habits of the Creepers. This has, with almost universal consent, 
been laid aside even as a sub-genus, and they are all included in Troglodytes. 
Read the descriptions of our author, or of Audubon, and the habits of the Wren 
will be at once perceived. ''Its tail," says the latter ornithologist, " is almost con- 
stantly erect 5 and before it starts to make the least flight, it uses a quick motion, 
which brings its body almost in contact with the object on which it stands. The 
quickness of the motions of this little bird is fully equal to that of a mouse : it ap- 
pears, and is out of sight in a moment ; peeps into a crevice, passes rapidly through 
it, and shows itself at a different place the next instant. These Wrens often sing 
from the roof of an abandoned flat-boat. When the song is finished, thcv creep 
from one board to another, thrust themselves through an auger hole, entering the 
boat's side at one place, and peeping out at another." In them we have exactly 
portrayed the manners of our British Wren, when engaged about a heap of rubbish, 
old stones, or barrels in a farm vard. — Ed. 

12* 



138 GREAT CAROLINA WREN. 

the banks of the Ogechee. It seemed to be particularly attached to 
the borders of cypress swamps, deep hollows, among' piles of old, de- 
caying timber, and by rivers and small creeks. It has all the restless, 
jerking" manners of the Wrens, skipping about with great nimbleness, 
hopping into caves, and disappearing into holes and crevices, like a 
rat, for several minutes, and then reappearing in another quarter. It 
occasionally utters a loud, strong, and singular twitter, resembling the 
word chirr-rup, dwelling long and strongly on the first syllable ; and 
so loud, that I at first mistook it for the Red-Bird, {L. cardinalis.) It 
has also another chant, rather more musical, like " Siveet William Sweet 
fVilliam,''^ much softer than the former. Though I cannot positively 
say, from my own observations, that it builds in Pennsylvania, and 
have never yet been so fortunate as to find its nest, yet, from the cir- 
cumstance of having several times observed it within a quarter of a 
mile of the Schuylkill, in the month of August, I have no doubt that 
some few breed here, and think it highly probable that Pennsylvania 
and New York may be the northern boundaries of their visits, having 
sought for it in vain among the states of New England. Its food ap- 
pears to consist of those insects, and their larvse, that frequent low, 
damp caves, piles of dead timber, old roots, projecting banks of creeks, 
&c. It certainly possesses the faculty of seeing in the dark better 
than day birds usually do ; for I have observed it exploring the re- 
cesses of caves, where a good acute eye must have been necessary to 
enable it to distinguish its prey. 

In the Southern States, as well as in Louisiana, this species is gen- 
erally resident ; though in summer they are more numerous, and are 
found rather farther north tlian in winter. In this last season their 
chirrupping is frequently heard in gardens soon after daybreak, and 
along the borders of the great rivers of the Southern States, not far 
from the sea-coast. 

The Great Wren of Carolina is five inches and a quarter long, and 
seven broad ; the whole upper parts are reddish bro"\vn, the wings 
and tail being barred with black ; a streak of yellowish white runs 
from the nostril over the eye, down the side of the neck, nearly to the 
back ; below that, a streak of reddish brown extends from the pos- 
terior part of the eye to the shoulder ; the chin is yellowish Avhite ; 
the breast, sides, and belly, a light rust color, or reddish buff; vent- 
feathers, white, neatly barred with black ; in the female, plain ; wing- 
coverts, minutely tipped with white ; legs and feet, flesh-colored, and 
very strong; bill, three quarters of an inch long, strong, a little bent, 
grooved, and pointed ; the upper mandible, bluish black ; lower, light 
blue ; nostrils, oval, partly covered with a prominent, convex mem- 
brane ; tongue, pointed and slender ; eyes, hazel ; tail, cuneiform, the 
two exterior feathers on each side three quarters of an inch shorter, 
whitish on their exterior edges, and touched with deeper black ; the 
same may be said of the three outer primaries. The female wants 
the white on the wing-coverts, but differs little in color from the 
male. 

In this species I have observed a circumstance common to the 
House and Winter Wren, but which is not found in the Marsh Wren — 
the feathers of tlie lower part of the back, wjien parted by the hand, 
or breath, appear spotted with white, being at bottom deep ash, reddish 



YELLOW-THROAT WARBLER. 139 

brown at the surface, and each feather with a spot of white between 
these two colors. This, however, cannot be perceived without parting 
the feathers. 



YELLOW-THROAT WARBLER. — SYLVIA FLAVICOLLIS.— 
Fig. 52. 

Yellow-throat Warbler,* Arct. Zool. p. 400. No. 286. — Catesb. i. 62. — Lath. ii. 
437. — La Mesange grise a gorge jauiie, Buff. v. 454. — La gorge jaune de Si. 
Domingue, PL erd. 686, fig. 1. 

SYLVICOLA FI^FICOLLIS. — Sw AiKsoN. 

Sylvia pensiliS; Bonap. Synop. p. 79. — S. pensilis, Lath. 

The habits of this beautiful species, like those of the preceding-, 
are not consistent with the shape and construction of its bill; the for- 
mer would rank it with the Titmouse, or with the Creepers; the latter 
is decisively that of the Warbler. The first opportunity I had of 
examining a living specimen of this bird, was in the southern parts 
of Georgia, in the month of February. Its notes, which were pretty 

* As with many others, there has been some confusion in the synon3"mcs of this 
species, and it has been described under ditierent names by the same authors. 
That oijlavicollis, adopted by our author, is characteristic of the markings ; whereas 
pensilis, of Latham and Vieillot, is applicable to the whole group ; and perhaps re- 
storing Wilson's name will create less confusion than taking one less known. The 
genus Sijlcicolu, with the sub-genus Vermivora, have been used by Mr. Swainson 
to designate almost all those birds in North America, which will represent the Eu- 
ropean Sij/viance, or Warblers. They are generally of a stronger malce ; the bill, 
though slender, is more conical, and the wings have the first and second quills of 
nearly equal length. The general dress is chaste and unobtrusive 5 but, at the same 
time, we have exceptions, showing great brilliancy and beauty of coloring. Their 
habits are precisely the same with our Warblers. They frequent woods and thick- 
ets. They are in constant motion, creeping and clinging about the branches, and 
inspecting the crevices in the bark, or under sides of tlie leaves, in search of insects. 
When their duties of incubation are over, they become less retired, and, with their 
broods, assemble in the gardens and cultivated grounds, where they find sustenance 
in the various fruits and berries. The notes of all are sprightly and pleasant 3 and 
a few possess a melody hardly inferior to the best songsters of Europe. 

Mr. Audubon has figured the following birds, which appear to rank under this 

ffenus, as hitherto undescribed : — Sylvia Ratlibonia, Aud., male and female, plate 
XV. He met with this species only once ; it is entirely of a bright yellow color, 
about four and a half inches in length. The bill appears more bent than in the 
typical species. Sylvia Roscoe, Aud. plate xxiv. male 5 looking more like a 
Trichas, shot on the Mississippi, the only one seen. The colors of the upper parts 
are dark olive, a slender white streak over each eye, and a broad black band from 
the eye downwards ; the under parts, yellow. Sylvia Childrenii, Aud. plate xxxv. ; 
killed in the state of Louisiana ; only two specimens were met with. General color 
of the plumage, yellowish green ; length, about four inches and three quarters. 

We cannot but regret the want of specimens of these interesting and rare species. 
Their authority will rest upon Mr. Audubon's plates. It is impossible, from them 
alone, to say, with precision, diat they belong to this genus ; and they are placed 
in it provisionally, with the view of making the list as complete as possible, and 
to point them out to others who may have the opportunity of examining them. 
— Ed. 



140 TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KING BIRD. 

loud and spirited, very much resembled those of the Indigo Bird. It 
continued a considerable time on tlie same pine-tree, creeping around 
the branches, and among tlie twigs, in the manner of the Titmouse, 
uttering its song every three or four minutes. On flying to another 
tree, it frequently alighted on the body, and ran nimbly up or down, 
spirally and perpendicularly, in search of insects. I had afterwards 
many opportunities of seeing others of the same species, and found 
them all to correspond in these particulars. This was about the 24th 
of February, and tlie first of their appearance there that spring, for 
they leave the United States about three months during winter, and, 
consequently, go to no great distance. I had been previously informed 
that they also pass the summer in Virginia, and in the southern parts 
of Maryland ; but they very rarely proceed as far north as Pennsyl- 
vania. 

This species is five inches and a half in length, and eight and a 
half broad ; the whole back, hind head, and rump, are a fine light 
slate color ; the tail is somewhat forked, black, and edged with light 
slate ; tlie wangs are also black, the three shortest secondaries, broadly 
edged wdth light blue ; all the wing-quills are slightly edged ^rith the 
same ; tlie first row of Aving-coverts is tipped and edged Avith white, 
the second, wholly white, or nearly so ; the frontlet, ear-featliers, lores, 
and above the temple, are black; the line betAveen the eye and 
nostril, Avhole throat, and middle of the breast, brilliant golden yelloAv ; 
the lower eyelid, line over the eye, and spot behind the ear-feathers, 
as Avell as the Avhole loAver parts, are pure white ; the yelloAv on the 
throat is bordered Avith touches of black, Avliich also extend along the 
sides, under the Avings ; the bill is black, and faithfully represented in 
the figure; the legs and feet, yelloAvish broAAn; the claAvs, extremely 
fine pointed ; the tongue, rather cartilaginous, and lacerated at the 
end. The female has the Avings of a dingy broAvn, and the whole 
colors, particularly the yelloAv^ on tlie tliroat, much duller ; tlie young 
birds of the first season are Avithout the velloAv. 



TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KING BIRD. — MUSCICAPA 
TYRANNUS.* — Fig. 53. 

Lanius tyrannus, Lin. Syst. 136.— Lath. Syn. i. 18(). — Catesb. i. 55. — Le Tvrau 
de la Caroline, Buf. iv. 577. PL eid. '&!&. — Arct. Zool. p. 384. No. 2G3.— 
Fettle's Museum, No. 578. 

TYRAJ^-J^US JJ^TREPIDUS, Vieillot. 

Muscicapa tvrannus, Bonap. Synop. p. 66. — T\Tannus intrepidus, Vieill. Gal. des 
Ois. pi. 133. — iVt)r//j. Zool. ii. 137. — The' Tyrant Flycatcher, Aud. pi. 79, 
male and female. Orn. Biog. i. 403. 

This is the Field Martin of Maryland and some of the Southern 
States, and the King Bird of Pennsylvania and several of the 

* Among the family of the Lanaidcn, Nortii America possesses only two of the 
sub-families 3 the typical one, Latiiancc, represented by Lanius, and an aberrant 



> 5 I 






??^l 



■* s 



11 




TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KLNG BIRD. 141 

northern districts. The epithet Tijrant, ^vliich is generally applied to 
iiim by naturalists, I am not altogether so well satisfied with ; some, 
however, may think tiie two terms pretty nearly synonymous. 

form, Tyrannince, represented by Tyrannus. Of the former, we have already seen 
an example cit page 4'J. 'JMiese are comparatively few 5 the great bulk of that form 
being coiilined to Africa and the warmer parts of Asia and India ; and, with the 
latter, we ejiter into the great mass ol" American Flycatchers, ranging over both 
the continents, particularly the southern. 

•' Tropical America," Mr. Swainson remarks, " swarms with the TtjrarmmcB, so 
much so, that several individuals, of three or four species, may be seen in the sur- 
rounding trees at the same moment, watching for passing insects ; each, however, 
looks oiit for its own particular prey, and does not interfere with such as appear 
destined by Nature for its stronger and less feeble associates. It is only towards 
the termination of the rainy season, when myriads of the Tennites and FormiccB 
emerge from the earth in their winged state, that the whole family of Tyrants, of 
all sizes and species, commence a regular and simultaneous attack upon the thou- 
sands which then spring from the ground." 

From their long-accepted name we have some idea of their manners. They 
possess extensive powers of locomotion, to enable them to secure a prey at once 
active and vigilant 5 and their long and sharp wings are beautifully formed for 
quick and rapid flight.* The tail, next in importance as a locomotive organ, is 
also generally of a form Joining the greatest advantages, — that of a forked shape; 
in some with the exterior feathers extending to a considerable length, while, in 
others, certainly only slightly divaricating, or" nearly square; but never, as among 
tiie ThamnophilincB, or Bush Shrikes, of a graduated or rounded form, where the 
individuals seek their prey by stealth and prowling, and require no great extent of 
flight ; on the other hand, those organs of less utility for securing the means of sus- 
tenance, are of much inferior strength and power. The accessory members for 
seizing their insect prey are, in like manner, adapted to their other powers ; the 
bill, though of considerable strength, is flattened; the rictus being atnple, and fur- 
nished with bristles. The genus Tyrannus, however, does not entirely^ feed on 
insects when on wing, like the smaller Tyranmdcc, but, as shown by Mr. Swainson, 
will also feed on small fish and aquatic insects ; and, if this fact be united with the 
weak formation of the tarsi, and, in several species, having the toes united at the 
base, there will be an evident connection between this group and the Fissirostres. 
That gentleman, in the second volume of the Northern Zoology, relates a fact 
from his journal when resident in Brazil, most beautifully illustrative of this affinity, 
and shows the value of attending to all circumstances relative to the habits of in- 
dividuals, which, though, like the present, of no importance alone, \vill, when taken 
in connection with other views, be of the very utmost consequence. " April 7, 1817. 
Sitting in the house this morning, I suddenly heard a splash in the lake close to the 
window ; on looking out, I saw a common Gray-breasted Tyrant {Tyrannus cru- 
delis) perched upon a dead branch hanging over the water, plunging and drying 
itself Intent upon watching this bird, f saw it, within a quarter of an hour, dive 
into the lake two successive times, after some small fish or aquatic insects, precisely 
like a Kingfisher; this action was done with amazing celerity, and it then took its 
former station to plume and dry its feathers." Here we have exactly the habits of 
the Kingfisher ; and I believe "a contrariety of manner, equally worthy of remark, 
is observed among some of the Dacelones, frequenting woods, and darting by sur- 
prise on the larger insects. Both tribes have another similarity in their economy, 
and delight to sit motionless, either watching their prey, or pluming and resting on 
the extremity or top of some dead branch, pale, or peaked rock. With regard to 
the Tyrant's being not only carnivorous, but preying also on the weaker reptiles, 
we have the authority of Azara, who mentions the common Tyranmis sulphnratus, 
or Bentivo of Brazil, as " S'approchent des animaux morts pour Temporter des 
debris et des petits morceaux de chair que laissent les Cara9aras." And Mr. 
Swainson (North. Zool. ii. 133) has himself taken from the stomach of this species 

* In many species the quills become suddenly emarsinated at the tips. This also occura 
in the sub-genera Milvulus and JVegeta, both niuch allied, and possessing great powers of 
flisht. 



142 TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KING BIRD. 

The trivial name King, as well as Tyrant, has been bestowed on 
this bird for its extraordinary behavior, and the authority it assumes 
over all others during the time of breeding. At that season his ex- 
treme affection for his mate, and for his nest and young, makes him 
suspicious of every bird that happens to pass near his residence, so 
that he attacks, without discrimination, every intruder. In the months 
of May, June, and part of July, his life is one continued scene of 
broils and battles ; in which, however, he generally comes off con- 
queror. Hawks and Crows, the Bald Eagle, and the Great Black 
Eagle, all equally dread a rencounter with this dauntless little cham- 
pion, who, as soon as he perceives one of these last approaching, 
launches into the air to meet him, mounts to a considerable height 
above him, and darts down on his back, sometimes fixing there to the 
great annoyance of his sovereign, who, if no convenient retreat or 
resting-place be near, endeavors by various evolutions to rid liimself 
of his merciless adversary. But the King Bird is not so easily dis- 
mounted. He teases the Eagle incessantly, sweeps upon him from 
right to left, remounts, that he may descend on his back with the 
greater violence ; all the while keeping up a shrill and rapid twitter- 
ing; and continuing the attack sometimes for more than a mile, 
till he is relieved by some other of his tribe equally eager for the 
contest. 

There is one bird, however, whicli, by its superior rapidity of flight, 
is sometimes more than a match for him ; and I have several times 
witnessed his precipitate retreat before this active antagonist. This 
is the Purple Martin, one whose food and disposition are pretty similar 
to his own, but who has greatly the advantage of him on wing, in 
eluding all his attacks, and teasing him as he pleases. I have also 
seen the Red-headed Woodpecker, while clinging on a rail of the fence, 
amuse himself with the violence of the King Bird, and play bo-peep 
with him round the rail, while the latter, highly iiTitated, made every 
attempt, as he swept from side to side, to strike him — but in vain. All 
this turbulence, however, vanishes as soon as his young are able to 



lizards, in an entire state, sufficiently larg-e to excite surprise how they possibly 
could have been swallowed by the bird 3 it is also here that we have the habits, 
and, in some respects, the form of the Lamancp, serving at the other extremity as 
a connecting link. The North American species, coming imdcr the detinition 
which we would wish to adopt for this group, are comparatively few. A new and 
more northern species is added by the authors of the Northern Zoolo-rrj* — the 
Ttjranmis horealis, Sw. 

Only one specimen of this species, which Mr. Swainson considers uudcscribcd, 
was procured. It was shot on the banks of the Saskatchewan River. Like the 
King liird, it is found in the Fur countries only in summer. It is considerably 
smaller than the Tyrairnus intrepidus, and may at once be distinguishctl from it by 
the forked tail not tipped with white, and much shorter tarsi, as' well as by very 
evident differences in the colors of the plumage. Its bill is rather more depVessed 
at the base, and its lower mandible is dissimilar to the upper one ; the relative 
length of the tail-feathers in the two species are also different ; the first of T. bo- 
realis, shorter than the third, the fourth being farther apart from the latter than in 
T. intrepidtis. • — Ed. 



* They are also baccivorous, ns shown bv our author in tho description of this species 
and T. crinitus. 



TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KING BIRD. 143 

shift for themselves ; and he is then as mild and peaceable as any 
other bird. 

But lie has a worse habit than all these, — one much more obnoxious 
to the husbandman, and often fatal to himself. He loves, not the 
honey, but the bees ; and, it must be confessed, is frequently on the 
look-out for these little industrious insects. He plants himself on a 
post of the fence, or on a small tree in the garden, not far from the hives, 
and from thence sallies on them as they pass and repass, making great 
havock among their numbers. His shrill twitter, so near to tlie house, 
gives intimation to the farmer of what is going on, and the gun soon 
closes his career forever. Man arrogates to himself, in this case, the 
exclusive privilege of murder ; and, after putting thousands of these 
same little insects to death, seizes on the fruits of their labor. 

The King Birds arrive in Pennsylvania about the 20th of April, 
sometimes in small bodies of five and six together, and are at first 
very silent, until they begin to pair, and build their nest. This gener- 
ally takes place about the first week in May. The nest is very often 
built in the orchard, on the horizontal branch of an apple-tree; fre- 
quently also, at Catesby observes, on a sassafras-tree, at no great 
height from the ground. The outside consists of small slender twigs, 
tops of withered flowers of the plant yarrow, and others, well wove 
together with tow and wool ; and is made large, and remarkably firm 
and compact. It is usually lined with fine, dry, fibrous grass, and 
horse hair. The eggs are five, of a very pale cream color, or dull 
white, marked with a few, large spots of deep purple, and other smaller 
ones of light brown, chiefly, though not altogether, towards the great 
end. They generally build tv/ice in the season. 

The King Bird is altogether destitute of song, having only the 
shrill twitter above mentioned. His usual mode of flight is singular. 
The vibrations of his broad wings, as he moves slowly over the fields, 
resemble those of a Hawk hovering and settling in the air to recon- 
noitre the ground below ; and the object of the King Bird is no doubt 
something similar, viz., to look out for passing insects, either in the 
air, or among the flowers and blossoms below him. In fields of pasture 
he often takes his stand on the tops of the mullein, and other rardi 
weeds, near the cattle, and makes occasional sweeps after passing 
insects, particularly the large, black gadfly, so terrifying to horses and 
cattle. His eye moves restlessly around him, traces the flight of an 
insect for a moment or two, then that of a second, and even a third, 
until he perceives one to his liking, when, with a shrill sweep, he 
pursues, seizes it, and returns to the same spot again, to look out for 
more. This habit is so conspicuous when he is watching the bee-liive, 
that several intelligent farmers of my acquaintance are of opinion 
that he picks out only the drones, and never injures the working bees. 
Be this as it may, he certainly gives a preference to one bee, and one 
species of insect, over another. He hovers over the river, sometimes 
for a considerable time, darting after insects that frequent such places, 
snatching them from the surface of the water, and diving about in the 
air like a Swallow ; for he possesses at will great powers of wing. 
Numbers of them are frequently seen thus engaged, for hours together, 
over the Rivers Delaware and Schuylkill, in a calm day, particularly 
towards evening. He bathes himself by diving repeatedly into the 



144 TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KING BIRD. 

water from the overhanging branches of some tree, where he sits to 
dry and dress his plumage. 

Whatever antipathy may prevail against him for depredations on 
tlie drones, or, if you v.ill, on the bees, I can assure the cultivator tliat 
this bird is greatly his friend, in destroying multitudes of insects, 
whose laiTse prey on tlie hanests of his tields, particularly his com, 
fruit-trees, cucumbers, and pumpkins. These noxious insects are 
the daily food of this bird ; and he destroys, upon a very moderate 
average, some hundreds of them daily. The death of eveiy King 
Bird is tlierefore an actual loss to the farmer, by multiplying tlie 
numbers of destructive insects, and encouraging the depredations of 
Crows, Hawks, and Eagles, who avoid as much as possible his inrnie- 
diate vicinity. For myself, I must say that the King Bird possesses 
no common share of my regard. I honor this little bird for his extreme 
affection for his young ; for his contempt of danger, and unexampled 
intrepidity ; for his meekness of behavior when there are no calls on 
his courage, a quality which, even in the human race, is justly consid- 
ered so noble : 

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man 

As modest stillness and humility; 

But when the blast of war, &c. j 

but, above all, I honor and esteem this bird for the millions of ruin- 
ous vermin which he rids us of; whose depredations, in one season, 
but for the services of this and other friendly birds, would far over- 
balance all the produce of the bee-hives in fifty. 

As a friend to this persecuted bird, and an enemy to prejudices of 
every description, will the reader alloAv me to set this matter in a 
somewhat clearer and stronger light, by presenting him with a short 
poetical epitome of the King Bird's history ? 

Far in the south, where vast Jlaragnon flows, 
And boundless forests unknown wilds enclose ; 
Vine-tangled shores, and sufibcating- woods. 
Parched up with heat or drowned with pouring floods ; 
Where each extreme alternately prevails. 
And Nature sad their ravages bewails ; 
Lo ! high m air, above those trackless wastes, 
With spring's return the King Bird hither hastes; 
Coasts the famed Gulf,* and, from his height, explores 
Its thousand streams, its long-indented shores, 
Its plains immense, wide opening on the day. 
Its lakes and isles, where feathered millions play : 
All tempt not him; till, gazine;- from on high, 
ColT-'mbia's regions wide below him lie; 
There end his wanderings and his wish to roam, 
There lie his native woods, his fields, his home ; 
Down, circling, he descends, from azure heights, 
And on a full-blown sassafras alights. 

Fatigued and silent, for a while he views 
His old frequented haunts, and shades recluse ; 
Sees brothers, comrades, every hour arrive — 
Hears, humming round, the tenants of the hive: 
Love fires his breast ; he wooes, and soon is blest; 
And in the blooming orchard builds his nest. 

* Of Mexico. 



TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KING BIRD. 145 

Come now, ye cowards ! ye whom Heaven disdains, 
Who boast the happiest home — llie richest plains } 
On whom, perchance, a wife, an infant's eye 
Hang as tlieir hope, and on your arm rely 5 
Yet, when tiie iioiir of danger and dismay 
Comes on your country, sneak in iioles away, 
Shrink from the perils ye were bound to face. 
And leave those babes and country to disgrace ; 
Come here, (if such we have,) ye dastard herd ! 
And kneel in dust before this noble bird. 

When the specked eggs within his nest appear, 
Then glows affection, ardent and sincere ; 
No discord sours him when his mate he meets ; 
But each warm heart with mutual kindness beats. 
For her repast he bears along the lea 
The bloated gadfly, and the balmy bee ; 
For her repose scours o'er th' adjacent farm, 
Whence Hawks might dart, or lurking foes alarm j 
For now abroad a band of ruffians prey. 
The Crow, the Cuckoo, and th' insidious Jayj 
These, in the owner's absence, all destroy. 
And murder every hope and every joy. 

Soft sits his brooding mate, her guardian he. 
Perched on the top of some tall, neighboring tree j 
Thence, from the thicket to the concave skies, 
His watchful eye around unceasing flies. 
Wrens, Thrushes, Warblers, startled at his note, 
FI3' in aftright the consecrated spot. 
He drives the plundering Jay, with honest scorn, 
Back to his woods ; the Mocker, to his thorn ; 
Sweeps round the Cuckoo, as the thief retreats ; 
Attacks the Crow ; the diving Hawk defeats 5 
Darts on the Eagle downwards from afar. 
And, 'midst the clouds, prolongs the whirling war. 
All danger o'er, he hastens back elate. 
To guard his post, and feed his faithful mate. 

Behold him now, his little family flown. 
Meek, unassuming, silent, and alone ; 
Lured by the well-known hum of favorite bees, 
As slow he hovers o'er the garden trees ; 
(For all have failings, passions, whims that lead, 
Some favorite wish, some appetite to feed ;) 
Straight he alights, and, from the pear-tree, spies 
The circling stream of humming insects rise 5 
Selects his prey ; darts on the busy brood, 
And shrilly twitters o'er his savory food. 

Ah! ill-timed triumph ! direful note to thee. 
That guides thy murderer to the fatal tree ; 
See where he skulks ! and takes his gloomy stand, 
The deep-charged musket hanging in his hand 3 
And, gaunt for blood, he leans it on a rest. 
Prepared, and pointed at thy snow-white breast. 
Ah, friend ! good friend ! forbear that barbarous deed j 
Against it valor, goodness, pity, plead) 
If e'er a family's griefs, a widow's woe. 
Have reached ihy soul, in mercy let him go ! 
Yet, should the tear of pity nought avail. 
Let interest speak, \ei gratitude prevail 5 
Kill not thy friend, who thy whole harvest shields, 
And sweeps ten thousand vermin from thy fields 5 
Think how this dauntless bird, thy poultry's guard, 
Drove every Hawk and Eagle from thy yard 5 
13 



146 TYRANT FLYCATCHER, OR KING BIRD. 

Watched round thy cattle as they fed, and slew 
The hungry, blackening swarms that round them flew j 
Some small return — some little right resign, 
And spare his life whose services are thijie ! 

I plead in vain ! Amid the bursting roar, 

The poor, lost King Bird welters in his gore ! 

Tliis species is eight inches long, and fourteen in extent ; the gen- 
eral color above is a dark slaty ash ; the head and tail are nearly 
black ; the latter even at the end, and tipped with white ; the wings 
are more of a brownish cast; the quills and wing-coverts are also 
edged with dull white ; the upper part of the breast is tinged with 
ash ; the throat, and all the rest of the lower parts, are pure white ; 
the plumage on the crown, though not forming a crest, is frequently 
erected, as represented in the plate, and discovers a rich bed of bril- 
liant orange, or flame color, called by the country people his crown : 
when the feathers lie close, this is altogether concealed. The bill is 
very broad at the base, overhanging at the point, and notched, of a 
glossy black color, and furnished with bristles at the base ; the legs 
and feet are black, seamed with gray ; the eye, hazel. The female 
differs in being more brownish on the upper parts, has a smaller streak 
of paler orange on the crown, and a narrower border of duller white 
on the tail. The young birds do not receive the orange on the head 
during their residence here the first season. 

This bird is very generally known from the Lakes to Florida. Be- 
sides insects, they feed, like every other species of their tribe with 
which I am acquainted, on various sorts of berries, particularly black- 
berries, of which they are extremely fond. Early in September they 
leave Pennsylvania, on their way to the south. 

A few days ago, I shot one of these birds, the whole plumage of 
which was nearly white, or a little inclining to a cream color ; it was 
a bird of the present year, and could not be more than a month old. 
This appeared also to have been its original color, as it issued from 
the egg. The skin was yellowish white ; tlie eye, much lighter than 
usual ; the legs and bill, blue. It was plump, and seemingly in good 
order. I presented it to Mr. Peale. Whatever may be the cause of 
this loss of color, if I may so call it, in birds, it is by no means uncom- 
mon among the various tribes that inhabit the United States. The 
Sparrow Hawk, Sparrow, Robin, Red- winged Blackbird, and many 
others, are occasionally found in Avhite plumage ; and I believe that 
such birds do not become so by climate, age, or disease, but that they 
are universally hatched so. The same phenomena are observable not 
only among various sorts of animals, but even among tlie human 
race ; and a white negro is no less common, in proportion to their 
numbers, than a white Blackbird ; Uiough the precise cause of this in 
either is but little understood. 



GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER. 147 



GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA 
CRINITA. — FiG.54. 

Linn. Sijst. 5'25. — Lath. ii. Sol. — Arct. Zool. p. 386, No. 2G7. — Le Mouche- 
rolle dc Virginie a huppe vcrte, Biiff. iv. 565. PL enl. 569. — Peak's Museum, 
No. 6645. 

TYRjiJVJVUS CRIJVITUS. — Swai nson. 

Tyrannus crinitus, Swain. Monog. Journ. of Science, vol. xx. p. 27L — Muscicapa 
crinita, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 67. 

By glancing at the physiognomy of this bird, and the rest of the 
figures of the same genus, it will readily be observed that they all be- 
long to one particular family of the same genus. They possess strong 
traits of their particular caste, smd are all remarkably dexterous at their 
profession of tiy-catching. The one now before us is less generally 
known than the preceding, being chiefly confined to the woods. 
There his liarsh squeak — for he has no song — is occasionally heard 
above most others. He also visits the orchard; is equally fond of 
bees, but wants the courage and magnanimity of the King Bird. He 
arrives in Pennsylvania early in May, and builds his nest in a hollow 
tree, deserted by the Blue-Bird or Woodpecker. The materials of 
which this is formed are scanty, and rather novel. One of these nests, 
now before me, is formed of a little loose hay, feathers of the Guinea 
fowl, hogs' bristles, pieces of cast snake skins, and dogs' hair. Snake 
skins with this bird appear to be an indispensable article, for I have 
never yet found one of his nests Avithout this material forming a part 
of it.* Whether he surrounds his nest with this by way of tenorem, 
to prevent other birds or animals from entering, or whether it be that 
he finds its silky softness suitable for his young, is uncertain ; the fact, 
however, is notorious. The female lays four eggs, of a dull cream 
color, thickly scratched with purple lines of various tints as if done 
with a pen. 

This species is eight inches and a half long, and thirteen inches in 
extent ; the upper parts are of a dull greenish olive ; the feathers on 
the head are pointed, centred with dark brown, ragged at the sides, 
and form a kind of blowzy crest ; the throat, and upper parts of the 
breast, delicate ash ; rest of the lower parts, a sulphiu- yellow ; the 
wing-coverts are pale drab, crossed with two bars of dull white ; the 
primaries are of a bright ferruginous, or sorrel color; the tail is 
slightly forked, its interior vanes of the same bright ferruginous as 
the primaries ; the bill is blackish, very much like that of the King 
Bird, furnished also with bristles ; the eye is hazel ; legs and feet, 
bluish black. The female can scarcely be distinguished, by its colors, 
from the male. 



* As I have mentioned at pag'e 94, this forms the lining to the nests of other 
birds also ; and, as the number of snakes is considerable in those uncultivated and 
woody countries, their castings may form a more frequent substitute than is gener- 
ally supposed. — Ed. 



148 S3] ALL GREEA'-CRESTED FLYCATCHER. 

This bird also feeds on hemes towards the end of summer, particu- 
larly on huckle-berries, which, during the time they last, seem to form 
the chief sustenance of the young birds. I have observed this species 
here as late as the 10th of September; rarely later. They do not, to 
my knowledge, ^vinter in any of the Southern States. 



SMALL GREEN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER.* — MUSCICAPA 
QUERULA. — Fig. 55. 

Muscicapa subviridis, Bartram, p. 289. — Arct. Zool. p. 386, No. 268. — Peak's 
Museum, No. 6825. 

TYRAjYJ\''ULA ^CJiDICj9. — S^.y AiKsoT^. 

Muscicapa acadica, Bonap. Synop. p. 68. 

This bird is but little known. It inhabits the deepest, thick-shaded, 
solitary parts of the woods, sits generally on tlie lower branches, 
utters, every half minute or so, a sudden, sharp squeak, which is heard 

* This species, with the two followuig of our author, have been separated from 
the Tyrants, and placed in a sub-genus, Tijranmda. They are, however, in 
realit}', little Tyrants, and agree in their habits, as far as their smaller size and 
weaker powers enable them. Their food is nearly the same, more conlined, how- 
ever, to insects, safficient power being wanting to overcome any stronger prey. 
Tijrannula will contain a great many species most closely allied to each other iu 
form, size, and color ; so much so, that it is nearly impossible to distinguish them, 
without a comparison of many together. When they are carefully analyzed, they 
seem distinct, and, the characters being constant, are also of sufficient specific im- 
portance. They are natives of both North and South America, and the adjacent 
islands 5 the North American known species are, — those described by our author, 
which will be found in another part of this volume, one or two figured by Bona- 
parte, with two new species discovered in the course of the last over-land arctic 
expedition, and described by Mr. Swainson in the second volume of the Northern 
Zooloc^y. South America, however, possesses the great host of species, where we 
may yet e.xpect many novelties. The extent and the closely-allied features of the 
group render them most difficult of distinction.* 

Both this form and the Tyrants are confined to the New World, juid the latter 
may be said to represent the great mass of our Flycatchers. 

The new species described by Mr. Swainson are, Tyranmda jnisilla, Sw., very 
closely allied to Muscicapa qnerula of Wilson, but satisfactorily proved distinct; 
the wings are nmch sliorlcr, somewhat rounded, and the comparative proportion of 
the quills differ 5 the colors, however, nearlv a^ree : the species brought home by 
the expedition was killed at (^arlton House in 33° N. lat., and it extends southward 
to Mexico. — T. Rirliardsonii, closely resembling T./usca; it differs in the form 
of the bill, and size of the feet ; the crest is thick and lengthened ; the upper plumage 
is more olive, while the under lias an olive whitish lint; the tail is more forked : it 
was found in the neigliborhood of Cumberland House, frequenting moist, shady 
woods by the banks oi rivers and lakes. 

Mr. Audubon also figures a species as new, and dedicates it to Dr. Trail, of 
Liverpool ; but, as I have remarked before, it is impossible to decide from a plate, 

* [t may lie here rcmnrkcd tluit tho Prince of Musignnno, in Iiis Sijn(rpsis, evidently 
recognizes this form as a sub-genus, tliough ho has not clmructerized it. — Ed. 



PEWIT FLYCATCHER. 149 

a considerable way through the woods ; and, as it flies from one tree 
to another, has a low, querulous note, something like the twitterings 
of Chickens nestling under the wings of the Hen. On alighting, this 
sound ceases, and it utters its note as before. It arrives from the 
south about the middle of May ; builds on the upper side of a limb, 
in a low, swampy part of the woods, and lays five white eggs. It 
leaves us about the beginning of September. It is a rare and very 
solitary bird, always haunting the most gloomy, moist, and unfre- 
quented parts of the forest. It feeds on flying insects, devours bees, 
and, in the season of huckle-berries, they form the chief part of its 
food. Its northern migrations extend as far as Newfoundland. 

The length of this species is five inches and a half; breadth, nine 
inches ; the upper parts are of a green olive color, the loAver, pale 
greenish yellow, darkest on the breast ; the wings are deep brown, 
crossed with two bars of yellowish white, and a ring of the same 
surrounds the eye, which is hazel. The tail is rounded at the end ; 
the bill is remarkably flat and broad, dark brown above, and flesh 
color below ; legs and feet, pale ash. The female diflfers little from 
tlie male in color. 



PEWIT FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA NUNCIOLA. - Fig. 56. 

Bartram, p. 289. —Blackcap Flycatcher, Lath. Syn.u. 353. — Phoebe Flycatcher, 
Id. Sup. p. 173. — Le Gobe-mouche noiratre de la Caroline, BuJF. iv. dil. — 
Arct. Zool. p. 387, No. 2G9. — Pea/e'* Museum, No. 6618. 

TYRAJ^J^ULA F?7SC./3.— Jardine. 

Muscicapa fusca, Bonap. Synop. p. 68. 

This well-known bird is one of our earliest spring visitants, arriving 
in Pennsylvania about the first week in March, and continuing with 
us until October. I have seen them here as late as the 12th of No- 
vember. In the month of February, I overtook these birds lingering 
in the low, swampy woods of North and South Carolina. They were 
feeding on smilax berries, and chanting, occasionally, their simple 
notes. The favorite resort of this bird is by streams of water, under 
or near bridges, in caves, &c. Near such places he sits on a project- 
ing twig, calling out, pe-w^e, pe-ivittitee pe-w^e, for a whole morning ; 
darting after insects, and returning to the same twig ; frequently flirt- 
ing his tail, like the Wagtail, though not so rapidly. He begins to 
build about the 20th or 25th of March, on some projecting part under 
a bridge, in a cave, in an open well, five or six feet down among the 
interstices of the side walls, often under a shed, in the low eaves of a 

however accurate. Tyrannula Trailii will come nearest to the Wood Pewee, but 
differs ds well in some parts of the plumage as in the habits. It is found in the 
woods which skirt the prairie lands of the Arkansas River. — Ed. 

13* 



15:) PEWIT FLYCATCHER. 

cottage, and such like places.* The outside is composed of mud, 
mixed with moss, is generally large and solid, and lined with flax and 
horse hair. The eggs are five, pure white, with two or three dots of 
red near the great end. I have known them rear three broods in 
one season. 

In a particular part of Mr. Bartram's woods, with which I am ac- 
quainted, by the side of a small stream, in a cave, five or six feet high, 
formed by the undermining of the water below, and the projection of 
two large rocks above, — 

There down smooth, ghstening rocks the ri\'ulet pours, 
Till in a pool its silent waters sleep, * 

A dark-browed clifi', o'ertopped with fern and flowers. 
Hangs, grimly lowering, o"er the glassy deep 5 

Above through every chink the woodbines creep, 

And smooth-barked beeches spread their arms around, 

Whose roots cling twisted round the rocky steep 3 
A more sequestered scene is no where found, 
For contemplation deep, mid silent thought profound 5 — 

in this cave I knew the Pewit to build for several years. The place 
was solitar}', and he Avas seldom disturbed. In tlie month of April, 
one fatal Saturday, a party of boys from the city, armed with guns, 
dealing indiscriminate destruction among the feathered tribes around 
them, directed their murderous course this way, and, within my 
hearing, destroyed both parents of this old and peaceful settlement 
For two successive years, and, I believe, to this day, there has been 
no PoAvee seen about this place. This circumstance almost con- 
vinces me that birds, in many instances, return to the same spots to 
breed : and Avho knoAvs, but, like the savage nations of Indians, they 
may usurp a kind of exclusive right of tenure to particular districts, 
where they themselves have been reared ? 

The notes of the PeAvee, like those of the Blue-Bird, are pleasing, 
not for any melody they contain, but from the ideas of spring and re- 
turning verdure, Avith all the sAveets of this lovely season, Avhich are 
associated Avith his simple but lively ditty. Towards the middle of 
June, he becomes nearly silent ; and late in the fall gives us a fcAv 
fareAvell and melancholy repetitions, that recall past imagery, and 
make the decayed and Avithered face of nature appear still more mel- 
ancholy. 

The PeAvit is six inches and a half in length, and nine and a half 
broad : the upper parts are of a dark dusky olive ; the plumage of the 

* The general manners of this species, and indeed of the greater part of the 
smaller Tyrannulcr, bear a considerable resemblance to those of the Common 
Spotted Flycatcher of this country, which the dilatation at the base of the bill and 
the color of the plumage render siill greater. The peculiar droop of the tail, and 
occasional rise and depression of the feathers on the crown, which are somewhat 
dongaled — the motionless perch on some bare branch — the impatient call — 
the motion of the tail — and the sudden dart after some insect, and return to the 
same spot — are all close resemblances to the manners delineated by our author ; 
and the resort by streams, bridges, or ca\es, with the manner and place of building 
— even the color of the eggs — are not to l)e mistaken. In one instance our Fly- 
catcher and the Tyrannulce disagree ; the former possess no pleasing notes ; fts 
only cries are a single, rather harsh smd monotonous click and a shrill peep. The 
song of the Tijrannulcv is " simple," but " lively." — Eu. 



WOOD PEWEE FLYCATCHER. 151 

head, like that of the two precedinfr, is loose, subcrested, and of a 
deep brownish black ; wings and tail, deep dusky ; the former edged, 
on every feather, with yellowish white, the latter forked, and widening 
remarkably towards the end ; bill, formed exactly like that of the King 
Bird ; whole lower parts, a pale, delicate yellow ; legs and bill, wholly 
black ; iris, hazel. The female is almost exactly like the male, except 
in having the crest somewhat more brown. This species inhabits 
from Canada to Florida ; great numbers of them usually wintering in 
the two Carolinas and Georgia. In New York they are called the 
Phoeby Bird, and are accused of destroying bees. With many people 
in the country, the arrival of the Pewee serves as a sort of almanac, 
reminding them that noAv it is time such and such work should be 
done. " Whenever the Pewit appears," says Mr. Bartram, " we may 
plant peas and beans in the open grounds, French beans, sow radishes, 
onions, and almost every kind of esculent garden seeds, without fear 
or danger from frosts ; for, although we have sometimes frosts after 
their first appearance for a night or two, yet not so severe as to injure 
the young plants." * 



WOOD PEWEE FLYCATCHER.— MUSCICAPA RAPAX.— 

Fig. 57. 

Muscicapa virens, Linn. Syst. 327. — Lath. Sijn li. 350. Id. Sup. p. 174, No. 
82.—^Catesb. i. 54, fig-. 1. — Le Gobe-mouche brun de la Caroline, Buff. iv. 
543. — Muscicapa acadica, Gmel. Syst. i. p. 947. — Arct. Zool. 387, No. 
270. —Peak's Museum, No. 6660. 

TYRAJ^J^ULA VIREJVS. — J ard i n e . 

Muscicapa virens, Linn. Syst.—Bonap. Synop. p. 68. 

I HAVE given the name Wood Pew^e to this species, to discrim- 
inate it from the preceding, which it resembles so much in form and 
plumage as scarcely to be distinguished from it, but by an accurate 
examination of both. Yet in manners, mode of building, period of 
migration, and notes, the two species differ greatly. The Pewee is 
among the first birds that visit us in spring, frequenting creeks, build- 
ing in caves, and under arches of bridges ; the Wood Pewee, the 
subject of our present account, is among the latest of our summer 
birds, seldom arriving before the 12th or loth of May ; frequenting the 
shadiest high-timbered woods, where there is little underwood, and 
abundance of dead twigs and branches shooting across the gloom ; 
generally in low situations ; builds its nest on the upper side of a limb 
or branch, forming it outwardly of moss, but using no mud, and lining 
it with various soft materials. The female lays five white eggs ; and 
the first brood leave the nest about the middle of June. 

This species is an exceeding expert fly-catcher. It loves to sit on 

* Travels, p. 288. 



152 FERRUGINOUS THRUSH. 

the high dead branches, amid the gloom of the woods, calling out in 
a feeble, plaintive tone, peto ivdy, peto way, pee way; occasionally 
darting after insects ; sometimes making a circular sweep of thirty or 
forty yards, snapping up numbers in its way with great adroitness ; and 
returning to its position and chant as before. In the latter part of 
August, its notes are almost the only ones to be heard in the woods ; 
about which time, also, it even approaches the city, where I have 
frequently observed it busily engaged under trees, in solitary courts, 
gardens, &c., feeding and training its young to their profession. About 
the middle of September, it retires to the south, a full month before 
the other. 

Length, six inches ; breadth, ten ; back, dusky olive, inclining to 
greenish ; head, subcrested, and brownish black ; tail, forked, and 
widening towards the tips ; lower parts, pale yellowish white. The 
only discriminating marks between this and the preceding are, the 
size and the color of the lower mandible, which in this is yellow, 
in the Pewee black. The female is difficult to be distinguished from 
the male. 

This species is far more numerous than the preceding, and, probably, 
winters much farther south. The Pewee was numerous in North and 
South Carolina in February ; but the Wood Pewee had not made its 
appearance in the lower parts of Georgia, even so late as the 16th of 
March. 



FERRUGINOUS THRUSH.* — TURDUS RUFUS. — Fig. 58. 

Fox-colored Thrush, Catesb, i. 28. — Turdus rufus, Linn. Syst. 293. — Lath. iii. 39. 
— La Grive de la Caroline, Briss. ii. 223. — Le Moquer Fran9ois, De Buff. iii. 
323. PL enl. 6i5.—ArcL Zool. p. 335, No. \95. — Peale's Museum, No. 5285. 

ORPHEUS RUFUS. —SyiKi^soK. 

Turdus rufus, Bonap. Syriop. p. 75. — Orphaeus rufus. Fox-colored Mock Bird, 
North. Zool. ii. p. 190. 

This is the Brown Thrush, or Thrasher, of the Middle and Eastern 
States, and the French Mocking Bird of Maryland, Virginia, and the 

* This species, with O. ■pohjo[lottos, is tlie typical form of Mr. Swainson's genus 
Orphmus, differing from Tiirdtis in its longer form, chiefly apparent from the 
greater length of its tail, its rounded and shorter wings, its long and bending, and 
111 proportion more slender bill. The form is confined to the New World, and will 
be represented in Africa by Crateropus and Donocohins. Swain. ; and in Asia and 
Australia by Poniatorhimix, Horsf They appear to live nearer the ground than 
the true Tlirushcs. frequenting the lower brushwood ; and it is only during the 
spring and breeding season that they mount aloft, to serenade their mates. The 
cries or notes are generally loud ; some possess considerable meUnly, which, how- 
ever, is only exercised as above menlioned ; but many of the aberrant species pos- 
sess only harsh aiul grating notes, incessanUy kept up ; in which respect they 
resemble the more typical African form and many of the aquatic Warblers. 

In the account given by our author of the manners of O. ri/f'iis, we perceive a 
very close resemblance to our Common Blackbird. The Blackbird is seldom seen 



FERRUGINOUS THRUSH. 153 

Carolinas. * It is the largest of all our Thrushes, and is a well-known 
and very distinguished songster. About the middle or 20th of April, 
or generally about the time the cherry-trees begin to blossom, he 
arrives in Pennsylvania, and, from the tops of our hedge-rows, sassa- 
fras, apple or cherry-trees, he salutes the opening morning with his 
charming song, which is loud, emphatical, and full of variety. At that 
serene hour, you may plainly distinguish his voice fully half a mile 
off. These notes are not imitative, as his name would import, and as 
some people believe, but seem solely his own ; and have considerable 
resemblance to the notes of the Song Thrush [Turdus musicus) of 
Britain. Early in May he builds his nest, choosing a thorn bush, low 
cedar, thicket of briers, dogwood sapling, or cluster of vines, for its 
situation, generally within a few feet of the ground. Outwardly, it is 
constructed of small sticks ; then layers of dry leaves, and, lastly, 
lined with fine, fibrous roots, but without any plaster. The eggs are 
five, thickly sprinkled with ferruginous grains, on a very pale bluish 
ground. They generally have two broods in a season. Like all birds 
that build near the ground, he shows great anxiety for the safety 
of his nest and young, and often attacks the black snake in their 
defence ; generally, too, with success, his strength being greater, and 
his bill stronger and more powerful, than any other of his tribe within 
the United States. His food consists of worms, which he scratches 
from the ground, caterpillars, and many kinds of berries. Beetles, 
and the whole race of coleopterous insects, wherever he can meet 
with them, are sure to suffer. He is accused, by some people, of 
scratching up the hills of Indian corn, in planting time ; this may be 
partly true ; but, for every grain of maize he pilfers, I am persuaded he 
destroys five hundred insects ; particularly a large dirty-colored grub, 
with a black head, which is more pernicious to the corn, and other 
grain and vegetables, than nine tenths of the whole feathered race. 
He is an active, vigorous bird, flies generally low, from one thicket to 
another, with his long, broad tail spread like a fan ; is often seen about 
brier and bramble bushes, along fences ; and has a single note or 
chuck, when you approach his nest. In Pennsylvania, they are 
numerous, but never fly in flocks. About the middle of September, 
or as soon as they have well recovered from moulting, in which 
they suffer severely, they disappear for the season. In passing through 
the southern parts of Virginia, and south as far as Georgia, in the 
depth of winter, I found them lingering in sheltered situations, par- 
ticularly on the border of swamps and rivers. On the first of March, 

on lofty trees, except during' the season of incubation, or occasionally in search of 
a roosting' place ; its true habitat is brushwood or shrubbery, and, unless at one 
season, its only note is that of alarm, shrill and rapid, or a kind of chuck. The 
manner of flight, •when raised from cover, along' a hedge, or among bushes, with the 
tail expanded, is also similar; we have thus two types of very nearly allied genera 
varying decidedly in form, but agreeing almost entirely in habit. The gregarious 
Thrushes, a»'ain, possess much more activity, enjoy lofty forests, or the open 
country, and protect themselves by vigilance, not by stealth and concealment. 

This species was met by Dr. Richardson at Carlton House. It extends from 
Pennsylvania to the Saskatchewan ; but Dr. Richardson thijiks it probable that it 
does not extend its range beyond the 54th parallel of latitude. It quits the Fur 
countries, with the other migratory birds, early in September. — Ed. 

* See p. 113, foY the supposed origin of this name. 



154 FERRUGINOUS THRUSH. 

they were in full song round the commons at Savannah, as if straining 
to outstrip the Mocking Bird, that prince of feathered musicians. 

The Thrasher is a welcome visitant in spring, to every lover of ru- 
ral scenery and rural song. In the months of April and May, when 
our woods, hedge-rows, orchards, and cherry-trees, are one profusion 
of blossoms, when every object around conveys the sweet sensations 
of joy, and Heaven's abundance is, as it were, showering aroui.^ us, 
tlie grateful heart beats in unison with the varying, elevated strains of 
this excellent bird ; we listen to its notes with a kind of devotional 
ecstasy, as a morning hymn to the great and most adorable Creator of 
all. The human being Avho, amidst such scenes, and in such seasons 
of rural serenity and delight, can pass them with cold indifference, 
and even contempt, I sincerely pity ; for abject must that heart be, 
and callous those feelings, and depraved that taste, which neither the 
charms of nature, nor the melody of innocence, nor the voice of grat- 
itude or devotion, can reach. 

This bird inhabits North America, from Canada to the point of Flor- 
ida. They are easily reared, and become very famihar when kept in 
cages ; and though this is rarely done, yet I have knoAvn a few in- 
stances where they sang in confinement with as much energy as in 
their native woods. They ought frequently to have earth and gravel 
thrown in to them, and have plenty of water to bathe in. 

The Ferruginous Thrush is eleven inches and a half long, and thir- 
teen in extent; the w^hole upper parts are of a bright reddish brown; 
wings, crossed with two bars of white, relieved with black ; tips and 
inner vanes of the wings, dusky; tail, very long, rounded at tlie end, 
broad, and of the same reddish brown as the back ; whole loAver parts, 
yellowish white ; the breast, and sides under the wings, beautifully 
marked with long, pointed spots of black, running in chains ; chin, 
white ; bill, very long and stout, not notched, the upper mandible over- 
hanging the lower a little, and beset wdth strong bristles at the base, 
black above, and whitish below, near the base ; legs, remarkably strong, 
and of a dusky clay color ; iris of the eye, brilliant yellow. The fe- 
male may be distinguished from the male by the white on the wing 
being much narrower, and the spots on the breast less. In other 
respects, their plumage is nearly alike. 

Concerning the sagacity and reasoning faculty of this bird, my ven- 
erable friend Mr. Bartram writes me as follows : — "I remember to 
have reared one of these birds from the nest, which, when full grown, 
became very tame and docile. I frequently let liim out of his cage to 
give him a taste of liberty. After fluttering and dusting himself in dry 
sand and earth, and bathing, washing, and dressing himself, he would 
proceed to hunt insects, such as beetles, crickets, and other shelly 
tribes ; but, being very fond of wasps, after catching them, and knock- 
ing them about to break their wings, he would lay them down, then 
examine if they had a sting, and, with his bill, squeeze the abdomen 
to clear it of the reservoir of poison before he would swallow his 
prey. When in his cage, being very fond of dry crusts of bread, if, 
upon trial, the corners of the crumbs were too hard and sharp for his 
throat, he would throw them up, carry, and put tlicm in his water dish 
to soften ; then take them out and swallow them. Many otlier re- 
markable circumstances migiit be mentioned that would fully demon- 



GOLDEN-CROWNED THRUSH. 155 

strate faculties of mind; not only innate, but acquired ideas, (derived 
from necessity in a state of domestication,) which we call understanding 
and knowledge. We see that this bird could associate those ideas, 
arrange and apply them in a rational manner, according to circum- 
stances. For instance, if he knew that it was the hard, sharp corners 
of the crumb of bread that hurt his gullet, and prevented him from 
swallowing it, and that water would soften and render it easy to be 
swallowed, this knowledge must be acquired by observation and expe- 
rience ; or some other bird taught him. Here the bird perceived, by 
the effect, the cause, and then took the quickest, the most effectual, 
and agreeable method to remove that cause. What could the wisest 
man have done better? Call it reason, or instinct, it is the same that 
a sensible man would have done in this case. 

" After the same manner this bird reasoned with respect to the 
wasps. He found, by experience and observation, that the first he 
attempted to swallow hurt his throat, and gave him extreme pain ; and, 
upon examination, observed that the extremity of the abdomen was 
armed with a poisonous sting ; and, after this discovery, never attempt- 
ed to swallow a wasp until he first pinched his abdomen to the ex- 
tremity, forcing out the sting, with the receptacle of poison." 

It is certainly a circumstance highly honorable to the character of 
birds, and corroborative of the foregoing sentiments, that those who 
have paid the most minute attention to their manners, are uniformly 
tlieir advocates and admirers. " He must," said a gentleman to me 
the other day, when speaking of another person, " he must be a 
good man ; for those Avho have long known him, and are most intimate 
with him, respect him greatly, and always speak well of him." 



GOLDEN-CROWNED THRUSH.* — TURDUS 
AUROCAPILLUS. — Fig. 59. 

Edw. 252. — Lath. iii.21. — La Figuier a tete d'or, Briss. iii. 504. — La GriveleUe 
de St. Domingue, Biiff. iii. 317. Fl. enl. 398. — ^rc^ Zool. p. 339, No. 203.— 
Turdus minimus, vertice aureo, The Least Golden-crowu Thrush, Bartram, p. 
290. — Peales Museum, No. 7122. 

SEIURUS JIUROCJIPILLUS. — Svf AiTisojf. 

Sylvia aurocapilla, Bonap. Synop. p. 77. ■ — Seittrus aurocapillus, North. Zool. ii. 227. 

Though the epithet Golden-croivned is not very suitable for this 
bird, that part of the head being rather of a brownish orange, yet, to 
avoid confusion, I have retained it. 

* This curious species, with the (S. aquaticus, No. 109, and some others, dif- 
fers materially in economy from the Thrushes, notwithstanding their general 
form and colors 5 and, to judge from the account of the manners of our present 
species given by Wilson, it will approach very closely to Anthus, and our A. arbo- 
reus, and in form and structure to some of the Warblers. The manners of >S. 
aquaticus, ag-ain, resemble more those of the Wagtails 5 but it has somewhat of 



156 GOLDEN-CROWNED THRUSH. 

This is also a migratory species, arriving in Pennsylvania late in 
April, and leaving us again late in September. It is altogether an 
inhabitant of the woods, runs along the ground like a lark, and even 
along the horizontal branches, frequently moving its tail in the man- 
ner of the Wagtails. It has no song, but a shrill, energetic twitter, 
formed by the rapid reiteration of two notes, peche^ peche, peche, for a 
quarter of a minute at a time. It builds a snug, somewhat singular 
nest, on the ground, in the woods, generally on a declivity facing the 
south. This is formed of leaves and dry grass, and lined with hair. 
Though sunk below the surface, it is arched over, and only a small 
hole left for entrance : the eggs are four, sometimes five, white, 
irregularly spotted Avith reddish brown, chiefly near the great end. 
When alarmed, it escapes from the nest with great silence and 
rapidity, running along the ground like a mouse, as if afraid to tread 
too heavily on the leaves ; if you stop to examine its nest, it also 
stops, droops its wings, flutters, and tumbles along, as if hardly able 
to crawl, looking back now and then to see whether you are taking 
notice of it. If you slowly follow, it leads you fifty or sixty yards off, 
in a direct line from its nest, seeming at every advance to be gaining 
fresh strength ; and when it thinks it has decoyed you to a sufficient 
distance, it suddenly w^heels off and disappears. This kind of decep- 
tion is practised by many other species of birds that build on the 
ground ; and is sometimes so adroitly performed, as actually to have 
the desired effect of securing the safety of its nest and young. 

This is one of those birds frequently selected by the Cow-Pen 
Bunting to be the foster parent of its young. Into the nest of this 
bird the Cow Bird deposits its egg, and leaves the result to the mercy 
and management of the Thrush, who generally performs the part of a 
faithful and affectionate nurse to the foundling. 

The Golden-crowned Thrush is six inches long, and nine in extent ; 
the whole upper parts, except the crown and hind head, are a rich 
yellow olive ; the tips of the wings, and inner vanes of the quills, are 
dusky brown ; from the nostrils, a black strip passes to the hind head 
on each side, between which lies a bed of brownish orange ; the sides 
of the neck are whitish ; the whole lower parts, white, except the 
breast, which is handsomely marked with pointed spots of black, or 
deep brown, as in tlie figure ; round the eye is a narrow ring of yel- 
lowish white ; legs, pale flesh color ; bill, dusky above, whitish below. 
The female has the orange on the crown considerably paler. 

This bird might with propriety be ranged witli the \Vagtails, its 
notes, manners, and habit of building on the ground being similar to 
these. It usually hatches twice in the season ; feeds on small bugs 
and the larvae of insects, which it chiefly gathers from the ground. It 
is very generally diffused over the United States, and winters in 
Jamaica, Hispaniola, and other islands of the West Indies. 

the true Thrush in perching high, and in possessing a sweet and pensive song. 
We have, therefore, in shape, color, and some of tlie habits, an alliance to the 
Thrushes, while the colors and their distribution agree both with Mrrula and An- 
ihus, and in their principal economy a combination of the t^tjlviavcr ami Motacil- 
lanac, — altogether a most interesting form; while, in the structure of their nest, and 
the color of the eggs, ihev agree with the Wrens. Mr. Swainson has made from 
it his genus Seiflrus. — YLv). 



CAT BIRD. 157 



CAT BIRD.* — TURDUS LIVIDUS. — Fig. 60. 

Muscicapa Carolinensis. Linn. Sijst. 328. — Le Gohe-mouchc hrun de Virg^nie, 
Briss. ii. 365. — (^at Bird, Catesb. i. ()(]. — Latham, ii. 353. — Le Moucherolle 
de Viro'mie, Buff. iv. 562. — Lucar lividus, apice nigra, The Cat Brrd, or Chicken 
Bird, Bartram','^Y>. 290. — PeaWs Museum, No. 6770. 

ORPHEUS JFEL/rOX — SwAiNsoN. 

Turdus felivox, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 75. 

We have here before us a very common and very numerous 
species, in this part of the United States ; and one as well known to 
all classes of people, as his favorite briers, or blackberry bushes. In 
spring- or summer, on approaching thickets of brambles, the first 
salutation you receive is from the Cat Bird ; and a stranger, unac- 
quainted with its note, would instantly conclude tliat some vagrant, 
orphan kitten had got bewildered among the briers, and wanted 
assistance ; so exactly does the call of the bird resemble the voice of 
that animal. Unsuspicious, and extremely familiar, he seems less 
apprehensive of man than almost any other of our summer visitants ; 
for whether in the woods, or in the garden, where he frequently builds 
his nest, he seldom allows you to pass without approaching to pay his 
respects, in his usual way. This humble familiarity and deference, 
from a stranger, too, who comes to rear his young, and spend the 
summer with us, ought to entitle him to a full share of our hospitality. 
Sorry I am, however, to say, that this, in too many instances, is 
cruelly the reverse. Of this I will speak more particularly in the 
sequel. 

About the 28th of February, the Cat Bird first arrives in the lower 
parts of Georgia from the south, consequently winters not far distant, 
probably in Florida. On the second week in April, he usually reaches 
this part of Pennsylvania, and, about the beginning of May, has 
already succeeded in building his nest. The place chosen for this 
purpose is generally a thicket of briers or brambles, a thorn bush, 
thick vine, or the fork of a small sapling ; no great solicitude is shown 
for concealment, though few birds appear more interested for the 
safety of their nest and young. The materials are dry leaves and 
weeds, small twigs, and fine, dry grass ; the inside is lined with the 
fine, black, fibrous roots of some plant. The female lays four, some- 
times five eggs, of a uniform greenish blue color, without any spots. 
They generally raise two, and sometimes three broods in a season. 

In passing through the woods in summer, I have sometimes amused 

* At first sight, this species, singular both in habits and structure, appears to 
range with Braclujpus ; but a more minute inspection shows that it will rather stand 
as an aberrant form with Orphceus. The structure of the bill, feet, and tail, are all 
of the latter 5 while the colors, and their distribution, agree with /?raf7i//;;?/A% par- 
ticularly the rufous vent; that part is a nearly constant mark among the Brachipi, 
being of a different and brighter color, and very generally red or yellow. The true 
Brachipi do not seem to extend to North America ; they are chiefly confined to 
Africa, and the warmer countries of India. 

14 



158 CAT BIRD. 

myself with imitating the violent chirping or squeaking of young 
birds, in order to observe what different species were around me ; for 
such sounds, at such a season, in the woods, are no less alarming to 
the feathered tenants of the bushes, than the cry of fire or murder in 
the streets is to the inhabitants of a large and populous city. On such 
occasions of alarm and consternation, the Cat Bird is the first to make 
his appearance, not singly, but sometimes half a dozen at a time, 
flying from different quarters to the spot. At this time, those who are 
disposed to play with his feelings may almost throw him into fits, his 
emotion and agitation are so great, at the distressful cries of what he 
supposes to be his suffering young. Other birds are variously aflfected ; 
but none show symptoms of such extreme suffering. He hurries 
backwards and forwards, with hanging wings and open mouth, calling 
out louder and faster, and actually screaming with distress, till he 
appears hoarse with his exertions. He attempts no offensive means ; 
but he bewails — he implores — in the most pathetic terms with Avhich 
nature has supplied him, and Avith an agony of feeling which is truly 
affecting. Every feathered neighbor within hearing hastens to the 
place, to learn the cause of the alarm, peeping about with looks of 
consternation and sympathy. But their own powerful parental duties 
and domestic concerns soon oblige each to withdraw. At any other 
season, the most perfect imitations have no effect whatever on him. 

The Cat Bird will not easily desert its nest. I took two eggs from 
one which was sitting, and in their place put two of the Brown 
Thrush, or Thrasher, and took my stand at a convenient distance, to 
see how she would behave. In a minute or two, the male made his 
approaches, stooped down, and looked earnestly at the strange eggs, 
then flew off" to his mate, who was not far distant, Avith whom he 
seemed to have some conversation, and instantly returning, with the 
greatest gentleness took out both the Thrasher's eggs, first one and 
then the other, carried them singly about thirty yards, and dropped 
them among the bushes. I then returned the two eggs I had taken, 
and, soon after, the female resumed her place on the nest as before. 

From the nest of another Cat Bird I took two half-fledged young, 
and placed them in that of another, which Avas sitting on five eggs. 
She soon turned them botli out. The place Avhere the nest Avas not 
being far from the ground, they Avere little injured, and the male, 
observing their helpless situation, began to feed them Avith great assi- 
duity and tenderness. 

I removed the nest of a Cat Bird, Avhich contained four eggs, nearly 
hatched, from a fox grape vine, and fixed it firmly and carefully in a 
thicket of briers close by, without injuring its contents. In less than 
half an hour I returned, and found it again occupied by the female. 

The Cat Bird is one of our earliest morning songsters, beginning 
generally before break of day, and hovering from bush to bush, Avith 
great sprightliness, Avhen there is scarce light sufficient to distinguish 
him. His notes are more remarkable for singularity than for melody. 
They consist of short imitations of other birds, and other sounds ; but, 
his pipe being rather deficient in clearness and strength of tone, his 
imitations fail Avhcrc tliesc arc requisite. Yet he is not easily dis- 
couraged, but seems to study certain passages Avith great persever- 
ance ; uttering them at first Ioav, and, as he succeeds, higher and more 



CAT BIRD. 159 

free, nowise embarrassed by the presence of a spectator even within 
a few yards of him. On attentively listening for some time to him, 
one can perceive considerable variety in his performance, in which he 
seems to introduce all the odd sounds and quaint passages he has 
been able to collect. Upon the whole, though we cannot arrange him 
with the grand leaders of our vernal choristers, he well merits a 
place among the most agreeable general performers. 

This bird, as has been before observed, is very numerous, in sum- 
mer, in the Middle States. Scarcely a thicket in the country is with- 
out its Cat Birds ; and were they to fly in flocks, like many other 
birds, they would darken the air with their numbers. But their migra- 
tions are seldom observed, owing to their gradual progress and reces- 
sion, in spring and autumn, to and from their breeding places. They 
enter Georgia late in February, and reach New England about the 
beginning of May. In their migrations, they keep pace with the 
progress of agriculture ; and the first settlers in many parts of the 
Gennesee country, have told me, that it was several years after they 
removed there, before the Cat Bird made his appearance among them. 
With all these amiable qualities to recommend him, few people in the 
country respect the Cat Bird ; on the contrary, it is generally the 
object of dislike ; and the boys of the United States entertain the 
same prejudice and contempt for this bird, its nest and young, as 
those of Britain do for the Yellow Hammer, and its nest, eggs, and 
young. I am at a loss to account for this cruel ^prejudice. Even 
those by whom it is entertained, can scarcely tell you why ; only they 
"hate Cat Birds ;" as some persons tell you they hate Frenchmen, 
they hate Dutchmen, ifcc, — expressions that bespeak their own nar- 
rowness of understanding, and want of liberality. Yet, after rumi- 
nating over in my own mind all the probable causes, I think I have at 
last hit on some of them ; the principal of which seems to me to be a 
certain similarity of taste, and clashing of interest, between the Cat 
Bird and the farmer. The Cat Bird is fond of large, ripe garden 
strawberries ; so is the farmer, for the good price they bring in 
market : the Cat Bird loves the best and richest early cherries ; so 
does the farmer, for they are sometimes the most profitable of his 
early fruit : the Cat Bird has a particular partiality for the finest, ripe, 
mellow pears ; and these are also particular favorites with the farmer. 
But the Cat Bird has frequently the advantage of the farmer, by 
snatching off" the first fruits of these delicious productions ; and the 
farmer takes revenge, by shooting him down with his gun, as he finds 
old hats, windmills, and scarecrows, are no impediments in his way to 
these forbidden fruits ; and nothing but this resource — the ultimatum 
of farmers as well as kings — can restrain his visits. The boys are 
now set to watch the cherry-trees with the gun : and thus commences 
a train of prejudices and antipathies, that commonly continue through 
life. Perhaps, too, the common note of the Cat Bird, so like the. 
mewing of the animal whose name it bears, and who itself sustains no 
small share of prejudice, the homeliness of his plumage, and even his 
familiarity, so proverbially known to beget contempt, may also con- 
tribute to this mean, illiberal, and persecuting prejudice ; but, with 
the generous and the g^od, the lovers of nature and of rural charms, 
the confidence which this familiar bird places in man by building in 



160 CAT BIRD. 

his garden, under his eye, the music of his song, and the interesting 
playfulness of his manners, Avill always be more than a recompense 
for all the little stolen morsels he snatches. 

The Cat Bird measures nine inches in lengtli ; at a small distance 
he appears nearly black ; but, on a closer examination, is of a deep 
slate color above, lightest on the edges of the primaries, and of a 
considerably lighter slate color below, except the under tail-coverts, 
which are very dark red ; the tail, which is rounded, and upper part of 
the head, as well as the legs and bill, are black. The female differs 
little in color from the male. Latham takes notice of a bird, exactly 
resembling this, being found at Kamtschatka, only it wanted the red 
under the tail. Probably it might have been a young bird, in which 
tiie red is scarcely observable. 

This bird has been very improperly classed among the Flycatchers. 
As he never seizes his prey on wing, has none of their manners, feeds 
principally on fruit, and seems to diifer so little from the Thrushes, I 
think he more properly belongs to the latter tribe, than to any other 
genus we have. His bill, legs, and feet, place and mode of building, 
the color of the eggs, his imitative notes, food, and general manners, 
all justify me in removing him to this genus. 

The Cat Bird is one of those unfortunate victims, and indeed the 
principal, against which credulity and ignorance have so often 
directed the fascinating quality of the black snake. A multitude of 
marvellous stories have been told me by people Avho have themselves 
seen the poor Cat Birds drawn, or sucked, as they sometimes express 
it, from the tops of the trees, (which, by the by, the Cat Bird rarely 
visits,) one by one into the yawning mouth of the immovable snake. 
It has so happened with me that, in all the adventures of this kind 
that I have personally witnessed, the Cat Bird was actually the 
assailant, and always the successful one. These rencounters never 
take place but during the breeding time of birds ; for whose eggs and 
young the snake has a particular partiality. It is no wonder that 
those species, whose nests are usually built near the ground, should 
be the greatest sufferers, and the most solicitous for their safety : 
hence the cause why the Cat Bird makes such a distinguished figure 
in most of these marvellous narrations. That a poisonous snake will 
strike a bird or mouse, and allow it to remain till nearly expiring 
before he begins to devour it, our observations on tiie living rattle- 
snake, at present [1811] kept by Mr. Peale, satisfy us is a fact; but 
that the same snake, with eyes, breath, or any other known quality he 
possesses, should be capable of drawing a bird, reluctantly, from 
the tree tops to its mouth, is an absurdity too great for me to swallow. 

I am led to these observations by a note wiiich I received this 
morning from my worthy friend Mr. Bartram : " Yesterday," says 
this gentleman, " I observed a conflict, or contest, between a Cat Bird 
and a snake. It took place in a gravel walk in the garden, near a 
dry wall of stone. I was within a few yards of tlie combatants. The 
bird pounced or darted upon the snake, snapping his bill ; the snake 
would then draw himself quickly into a coil, ready for a blow ; but 
the bird would cautiously circumvent iiim at a little distance, now and 
then running up to, and snapping at him ; but keeping at a sufficient 
distance to avoid a blow. After some minutes, it became a running 



BAY-BREASTED WARBLER. 16t 

fi^ht, the snake retreating ; and, at last, he took shelter in the wall. 
The Cat Bird had young ones in the bushes near the field of battle. 

"Tins may show the possibility of poisonous snakes biting birds; 
the operation of the poison causing them to become, as it were, 
fascinated." 



BAY-BREASTED WARBLER. — SYLVIA CASTANEA. — Fig. 6L 

Parus pcregrinus, The LiUle Chocolate-breasted Titmouse, Bartram, p. 292. 
— Peak's Museum, No. 7311. 

SYLVICOLA C^STVJJVJE./?. — SwAiNsoN. 

Sylvia castanea, Bonap. Synop. p. 81. * 

This very rare species passes through Pennsylvania about the begin- 
ning of May, and soon disappears. It has many of the habits of the 
Titmouse, and all its activity ; hanging among the extremities of the 
twigs, and darting about from place to place, with restless diligence, 
in search of various kinds of the larvae of insects. It is never seen 
here in summer, and very rarely on its return, owing, no doubt, to. the 
greater abundance of foliage at that time, and to the silence and real 
scarcity of the species. Of its nest and eggs we are altogether un- 
informed. 

The length of this bird is five inches, breadth eleven ; throat, breast, 
and sides under the wings, pale chestnut, or bay ; forehead, cheeks, 
line over and strip through the eye, black ; crown, deep chestnut; 
lower parts, dull yellowish white ; hind head and back, streaked with 
black, on a grayish buff" ground ; wings, brownish black, crossed with 
two bars of white ; tail, forked, brownish black, edged with ash, the 
three exterior feathers marked with a spot of white on the inner edges ; 
behind the eye is a broad, oblong spot of yellowish white. The female 
has much less of the bay color on the breast ; the black on the fore- 
head is also less, and of a brownish tint. The legs and feet, in both, 
are dark ash, the claws extremely sharp for climbing and hanging ; 
the bill is black ; irides, hazel. 

The ornithologists of Europe take no notice of this species, and 
have probably never met with it. Indeed, it is so seldom seen in thia 
part of Pennsylvania, that few even of our own writers iiave men- 
tioned it. 

I lately received a very neat drawing of this bird, done by a young 
lady in Middletown, Connecticut, where it seems also to be a rare 
species. 

* According to Bonaparte, discovered and first described bv Wilson. — Ed. 

14* 



162 CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER. 



CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER. — SYLVIA PENNSYLVANICA. 
— Fig. 62. 

Linn. Syst. 333. — Red-throated Flycatcher, JSc^jc. 301. — Bloody-side Warbler, 
Turton, Syst. i. p. 596. — Le figuier a poitrine rouge, Buff. v. 308 — Briss. Add. 
105. — Lath. ii. 489. — Arct. Zool. p. 405, No. 298. — Peale's Museum, No. 7006. 

SYLVICOLA ICTEROCEPHALA. — Swaikso?*. 

Sylvia icterocephala. Bonap. Synop. p. 80. — The Chestnut-sided Warbler, Avd. 
pi. 59. Om. Biog. p. 306. 

Or this bird I can give but little account. It is one of those tran- 
sient visitors that pass through Pennsylvania, in April and May, on 
their way farther north to breed. During its stay here, which seldom 
exceeds a week or ten days, it appears actively engaged among the 
opening buds and young leaves, in search of insects ; has no song but 
a feeble chirp, or twitter , and is not numerous. As it leaves us early 
in May, it probably breeds in Canada, or, perhaps, some parts of New 
England ; though I have no certain knowledge of the fact In a 
Avhole day's excursion, it is rare to meet with more than one or two of 
these birds ; though a thousand individuals of some species may be 
seen in the same time. Perhaps they may be more numerous on some 
other part of the continent 

The length of this species is five inches ; the extent, seven and three 
quarters. The front, line over the eye, and ear-feathers, are pure 
white ; upper part of the head, brilliant yellow ; the lores and space 
immediately below are marked with a triangular patch of black ; the 
back and hind head are streaked with gray, dusky black, and dull yel- 
low ; Avings, black ; primaries, edged with pale blue, the first and sec- 
ond row of coverts, broadly tipped wdth pale yellow ; secondaries, 
broadly edged with the same ; tail, black, handsomely forked, exteriorly 
edged with ash ; the inner webs of the three exterior feathers with 
each a spot of white ; from the extremity of the black at the lower 
mandible, on each side, a streak of deep reddish chestnut descends 
along the sides of the neck, and under the wangs, to the root of the 
tail ; the rest of the lower parts are pure white ; legs and feet, ash ; 
bill, black ; irides, hazel. The female has the hind head much lighter, 
and the chestnut on the sides is considerably narrower, and not of so 
deep a tint 

Turton, and some other writers, have bestowed on this little bird 
the singular epithet of " bloody-sided," for which I was at a loss to 
know the reason, the color of that part being a plain chestnut ; till, on 
examining Mr. Edwards's colored figure of this bird in the public libra- 
ry of Philadelphia, I found its side tinged with a brilliant blood color. 
Hence, I suppose, originated the name ! 



MOURNING WARBLER. 163 

MOURNING WARBLER —SYLVIA PHILADELPHIA. — Fig. 63. 

TRICHAS 7 PJHLADELPHM. — Jardine. 
Sylvia Philadelphia, Bona-p. Sijnop. p. 85. 

I HAVE now the honor of introducing to the notice of naturalists 
and others a very modest and neat little species, which has hitherto 
eluded their research. I must also add, with regret, that it is the only- 
one of its kind I have yet met with. The bird from which the figure 
in the plate was taken, was shot in the early part of June, on the bor- 
der of a marsh, Avithin a few miles of Philadelphia. It was flitting 
from one low bush to another, very busy in search of insects ; and had 
a sprightly and pleasant warbling song, the novelty of which first at- 
tracted my attention. I have traversed the same and many such places, 
every spring and summer since, in expectation of again meeting with 
some individual of the species, but without success. I have, however, 
the satisfaction to say, that the drawing was done with the greatest 
attention to peculiarity of form, markings, and tint of plumage ; and 
the figure on the plate is a good resemblance of the original. I have 
yet hopes of meeting, in some of my excursions, with the female, and, 
should I be so fortunate, shall represent her in some future volume of 
the present work, with such further remarks on their manners, &c., as 
I ma}^ then be enabled to make. 

There are two species mentioned by Turton, to which the present 
has some resemblance, viz., Motadlla mitrata, or Mitred Warbler, and 
M. cucullata, or Hooded Warbler ; both birds of the United States, 
or, more properly, a single bird ; for they are the same species twice 
described, namely, the Hooded Warbler. The difference, however, 
between that and the present is so striking, as to determine this at 
once to be a very distinct species. The singular appearance of the 
head, neck, and breast, suggested the name. 

The Mourning Warbler is five inches long, and seven in extent ; 
the whole back, wings, and tail, are of a deep greenish olive, the tips 
of the wings, and the centre of the tail-feathers, excepted, which are 
brownish ; the whole head is of a dull slate color ; the breast is orna- 
mented with a singular crescent of alternate, transverse lines of pure 
glossy white, and very deep black ; all the rest of the lower parts are 
of a brilliant yellow ; the tail is rounded at the end ; legs and feet, a 
pale flesh color ; bill, deep brownish black above, hghter below ; eye, 
hazel.* 

** Wilson saw this bird only once, and I have met with no one who has since seen 
it. From the general appearance of the representation, it seems to approach nearest 
to the generic appellation we have given, but which must rest yet undecided. 
Bonaparte observes, " The excessive rarity might lead us to suppose it an acci- 
dental variety of some other, — perhaps S. Irichas." — Ed. 



164 RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER. 



RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER. — PICUS QUERULUS.— 

Fig. 64. 

Peak's Museum, No. 2027. 

DEJ^DROCOPUS QUERULUS.— Koch. 

Picus querulus, Bonap. Synop. p. 46. 

This new species 1 first discovered in the pine woods of North 
Carolina. The singularity of its voice, which greatly resembles the 
chirping of young nestlings, and the red streak on the side of its head, 
suggested the specific name I have given it. It also extends through 
South Carolina and Georgia, at least as far as the Altamaha River. 
Observing the first specimen I found to be so slightly marked with 
red, I suspected it to be a young bird, or imperfect in its plumage ; 
but the great numbers I afterwards shot, satisfied me that this is a 
peculiarity of the species. It appeared exceedingly restless, active, 
and clamorous ; and every where I found its manners the same. 

This bird seems to be an intermediate link between the Red-bellied 
and the Hairy Woodpecker, represented in Nos. 26 and 37. It has 
the back of the former, and the white belly and spotted neck of the 
latter; but wants the breadth of red in both, and is less than either. 
A preserved specimen has been deposited in the Museum of Phila- 
delphia. 

This Woodpecker is seven inches and a half long, and thirteen 
■broad ; the upper part of the head is black ; the back barred with 
twelve white transversely semicircular lines, and as many of black, 
alternately ; the cheeks and sides of the neck are white ; whole lower 
parts, the same ; from the lower mandible, a list of black passes towards 
tJie shoulder of the wing, where it is lost in small black spots on each 
side of the breast ; the wings are black, spotted with white ; the 
four middle tail-feathers, black; the rest white, spotted with black; 
rump, black, variegated with white; the vent, white, spotted \^^th 
black ; the hairs that cover the nostrils are of a pale cream color ; the 
bill, deep slate. But what forms the most distinguishing peculiarity 
of this bird, is a fine line of vermilion on each side of the head, sel- 
dom occupying more than the edge of a single feather. The female 
is destitute of this ornament ; but, in the rest of her plumage, differs 
m nothing from the male. The iris of the eye, in both, was hazel. 

The stomachs of all those I opened were filled with small black 
insects and fragments of large beetles. The posterior extremities of 
the tongue reached nearly to the base of the upper mandible. 



BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH. 166 



BROWN-HEADED NUTHATCH. — SITTA PUSILLA. — Fig. 65. 

Small Nuthatch, Catesbrj, Car. i. 22, upper figxire. — La petite sitelle a tete brune, 
Buff. V. ^1-i. — Peak's Museum, No. mU). — Briss. iii. 958. — La^A. i. 651, C. 

SITTjI PUSILL^. — L.jltham. 

Sitta pusilla, Bonap. Synop. p. 97. 

This bird is chiefly an inhabitant of Virginia and the Southern 
States, and seems particularly fond of pine-trees. I have never yet 
discovered it either in Pennsylvania or any of the regions north of 
this. Its manners are very similar to those of the Red-bellied Nut- 
hatch, represented in No. 7 ; but its notes are more shrill and chirp- 
ing. In the countries it inhabits it is a constant resident; and in 
wmter associates with parties, of eight or ten, of its own species, Avho 
hunt busily from tree to tree, keeping up a perpetual screeping. It is 
a frequent companion of the Woodpecker figured beside it ; and you 
rarely find the one in the woods without observing or hearing the other 
not far off. It climbs equally in every direction, on the smaller branches 
as well as on the body of the tree, in search of its favorite food, small 
insects and their larvae. It also feeds on the seeds of the pine-tree. 
I have never met with its nest. 

This species is four inches and a quarter long, and eight broad ; the 
whole upper part of the head and neck, from the bill to the back, and 
as far down as the eyes, is light brown, or pale ferruginous, shaded 
witli darker touches, with the exception of a spot of white near the 
back ; from the nostril through the eyes, the brown is deepest, making 
a very observable line there ; the chin, and sides of the neck under 
the eyes, are white ; the wings, dusky ; the coverts and three seconda- 
ries next the body, a slate or lead color, which is also the color of 
the rest of the upper parts ; the tail is nearly even at the end, the two 
middle feathers slate color, the others black, tipped with slate, and 
crossed diagonally with a streak of white; legs and feet, dull blue ; 
upper mandible, black ; lower, blue at the base ; iris, hazel. Tho 
female differs in having the brown on the head rather darker, and the 
line through the eye less conspicuous. 

This diminutive bird is little noticed in history, and what little has 
been said of it by Europeans is not much to its credit. It is charac- 
terized as " a very stupid bird," which may easily be knocked down, 
from the sides of the tree, with one's cane. I confess I found it a very 
dexterous climber, and so rapid and restless in its motions as to be 
shot with difficulty. Almost all very small birds seem less suspicious 
of man than large ones ; but that activity and restless diligence should 
constitute stupidity, is rather a new doctrine. Upon the whole, I am 
of opinion, that a person who should undertake the destruction of these 
birds, at even a dollar a head for all he knocked down with his cane, 
would run a fair chance of starving by his profession.* 

* In our note at page 24, we mentioned that the American Nuthatches and that 
of Europe were the only species known. M. Vigors has since described, in the 



IGC PIGEON HAWK. 



PIGEON HAWK. — FALCO COLUMBARIUS. — Fig. 66. — Male. 

Linn. Syst. p. 128, No. 21. — Lath. Syn. i. p. 101, No. 86. — L'Epervier de la . 
Caroline, Briss. Orn. i. p. 'HZ^. — Catesb. i. p. 3, t. ^. — Bartram, p. 290.— | 
TuHon, Syst. i. p. 162. — PeaWs Museum, No. 352. \ 

FJiLCO C0LUJyiBJ3RIUS. — L.iK^xvs. 

Pigeon Hawk, Penn. Arct. Zool. ii. 222. — Falco Columbarius, 5onap. Synop. \ 
p. 28. — North. Zool. ii. p. 35. 1 

This small Hawk possesses great spirit and rapidity of flight. He 
is generally migratory in the Middle and Northern States, arriving in 
Pennsylvania early in spring, and extending his migrations as far north 
as Hudson's Bay. After building, and rearing his young, he retires to 
the south early in November. Small birds and mice are his principal 
food. When the Reed Birds, Grakles, and Red-winged Blackbirds 
congregate in large flights, he is often observed hovering in their rear, 
or on their flanks, picking up the weak, the wounded, or stragglers, 
and frequently making a sudden and fatal sweep into the very midst 
of their multitudes. The flocks of Robins and Pigeons are honored 
with the same attentions from this marauder, whose daily excursions 
are entirely regulated by the movements of the great body on whose 
unfortunate members he fattens. The individual from which the 
drawing on the plate was taken, was shot in the meadows below Phil- 
adelphia in the month of August. He was carrying off" a Blackbird 
( Oriolus phaniceus) from the flock, and, though mortally wounded and 
dying, held his prey fast till his last expiring breath, having struck his 
claws into its very heart. This was found to be a male. Sometimes 
when shot at, and not hurt, he will fly in circles over the sportsman's 
head, shrieking out with great violence, as if highly irritated. He fre- 
quently flies low, skimming a little above the field. I have never seen 
his nest.* 

The Pigeon Hawk is eleven inches long, and twenty-three broad ; 
the whole upper parts are of a deep dark brown, except the tail, which 
is crossed with bars of white ; the inner vanes of the quill-feathers are 
marked with round spots of reddish brown ; the bill is short, strongly 
toothed, of a light blue color, and tipped with black ; the skin surround- 
ing the eye, greenish ; cere, the same ; temples and line over the eye, 

proccedinp^s of the Committee of Science of the Zoolog-ical Society, one under the 
name of Sitta castaneovevtris, from India, which, if true to the type, may prove an 
addition. In the same place, that gentleman also describes a second species of 
Certhia, [C. spilomtta,) hut adds, " the tail of this bird is soft and flexible." We 
have noticed, in a former note, the C. familiaris as the only known species, and 
we doubt if that now mentioned can ranlv witii it. — En. 

* Mr. Hiitchins, in his notes on the Hudson's Hay birds, informs us that this spe- 
cies makes its nest in hollow rocks and trees, of sticks and grass, lined with feathers, 
laying from two to four while eggs, thiiily marked with red spots. 

This species has the form of the Falcons, widi the bill strongly toothed, but 
somewhat of the plumage of the Sparrow Hawks. The color of the eggs is also 
that of the latter. — En. 



BLUE-WINGED YELLOW WARBLER. 167 

lighter brown; the lower parts, brownish white, streaked laterally 
with dark brown ; legs, yellow ; daws, black. The female is an inch 
and a half longer, of a still deeper color, though marked nearly in 
the same manner, with the exception of some white on the hind head 
The femoral, or thigh feathers, in both are of a remarkable length, 
reaching nearly to the feet, and are also streaked longitudinally with 
dark brown. The irides of the eyes of this bird have been hitherto 
described as being of a brilliant yellow ; but every specimen I have 
yet met with had the iris of a deep hazel. I must Uierefore follow 
nature, in opposition to very numerous and respectable authorities. 

I cannot, in imitation of European naturalists, embellish the history 
of this species with anecdotes of its exploits in falconry. This 
science, if it may be so called, is among the few that have never yet 
travelled across the Atlantic ; neither does it appear that the idea of 
training our Hawks or Eagles to the chase, ever suggested itself to 
any of the Indian nations of North America. The Tartars, however, 
from whom, according to certain writers, many of these nations 
originated, have long excelled in the practice of this sport, which is 
indeed better suited to an open country than to one covered with 
forest. Though once so honorable and so universal, it is now much 
disused in Europe, and in Britain is nearly extinct. Yot I cannot 
but consider it as a much more noble and princely amusement than 
horse-racing and cock-fighting, cultivated in certain states with so 
much care ; or even than pugilism, which is still so highly patronized 
is some of those enlightened countries. 



BLUE-WINGED YELLOW WARBLER.— SYLVIA SOLITARIA. 
— Fig. 67. 

Parus aureus alls coeruleis, Bartram, p. 292. — Edic. pi. 277, upper figure. — Pine 
Warbler, ArcL ZooL p. 412, No. 318. — Feale's Museum, No. 7307. 

VERMIVORA SOLIT^RM. — Sw Aiysoy. 

Sylvia solitaria, Bonap. Synop. p. 87. — The Blue-winged Yellow Warbler, 
Aud. pi. 20, Orn. Biog. i. 102. 

This bird has been mistaken for the Pine Creeper of Catesby. It 
is a very different species. It comes to us early in May from the 
south ; haunts thickets and shrubberies, searching the branches for 
insects ; is fond of visiting gardens, orchards, and willow-trees, of 
gleaning among blossoms and currant bushes ; and is frequently found 
in very sequestered woods, where it generally builds its nest. This 
is fixed in a thick bunch or tussock of long grass, sometimes sheltered 
by a brier bush. It is built in the form of an inverted cone, or funnel, 
the bottom thickly bedded with dry beech leaves, the sides formed of 
the dry bark of strong weeds, lined within with fine, dry grass. These 



168 BLUE-WLNGED YELLOW WARBLER. 

materials are not placed in the usual manner, circularly, but shelving 
downwards on all sides from the top ; the mouth being wide, the bot- 
tom very narrow, filled with leaves, and the eggs or young occupying 
the middle. The female lays five eggs, pure white, with a few very 
faint dots of reddish near the great end ; the young appear the first 
week in June. I am not certain whether they raise a second brood in 
the same season. 

I have met with several of these nests, always in a retired, though 
open, part of the woods, and very similar to each other. 

The first specimen of this bird taken notice of by European writers 
was transmitted, with many others, by Mr. William Bartram to Mr. 
Edwards, by whom it was drawn and etched in the 277th plate of his 
Ornithology. In his remarks on this bird, he seems at a loss to deter- 
mine whether it is not the Pine Creeper of Catesby ; * a difficulty 
occasioned by the very imperfect coloring and figure of Catesby's 
bird. The Pine Creeper, however, is a much larger bird ; is of a dark 
yellow olive above, and orange yellow beloAv ; has all the habits of a 
Creeper, alighting on the trunks of the pine-trees, running nimbly 
round them, and, according to Mr. Abbol^ builds a pensile nest. I 
observed thousands of them in the pine woods of Carolina and Georgia, 
where they are resident, but have never met witli them in any part of 
Pennsylvania. 

This species is five inches and a half long, and seven and a half 
broad ; hind head, and whole back, a rich green olive ; croAvn and 
front, orange yellow ; whole lower parts, yellow, except the vent- 
feathers, which are white ; bill, black above, lighter below ; lores, black ; 
the form of the bill approximates a little to that of the Finch ; wings 
and tail, deep brown, broadly edged with pale slate, which makes them 
appear wholly of that tint, except at the tips ; first and second row 
of coverts, tipped with white slightly stained with yellow ; the three 
exterior tail-feathers have their inner vanes nearly all white ; legs, pale 
bluish ; feet, dirty yellow ; the two middle tail-feathers are pale slate. 
The female differs very little in color from the male. 

This species very much resembles the Prothonotary Warbler of 
Pennant and Buffbn ; the only difference I can perceive, on comparing 
specimens of each, is, tliat the yellow of the Prothonotary is more of 
an orange tint, and the bird somewhat larger. 

* Catesby, Car. vol. i. pi. 6L 



BLUE-EYED YELLOW WARBLER. 



BLUE-EYED YELLOW WARBLER.— SYLVIA CITRINELLA. 

— Fig. 68. 

Yellow-Poll Warbler^ Lalh. Syn. vol. ii. No. U^. — Arct. Zool. p. 402, No. 292.— 
Le Figuier lachete, Buff. Ois. v. p. 285. — Motacilla sestiva, Turton's Syst. 
p. 613. — Parus luteus, Summer Yellow-Bird, Bartram, p. 292. — Peak's Mu- 
seum, No. 7266. 

SYLVICOLA ^Srjr./J. — SwAiNsoN. 

Sylvia asstiva, Bonap. Synop. p. 83. — Sylvicola sestiva, North. Zool. ii. p. 212. 

This is a very common summer species, and appears almost always 
actively employed among' the leaves and blossoms of the willows, 
snow-ball shrub, and poplars, searching after small green caterpillars, 
which are its principal food. It has a few shrill notes, uttered with 
emphasis, but not deserving the name of song. It arrives in Penn- 
sylvania about the beginning of May, and departs again for the south 
about the middle of September. According to Latham, it is numerous 
in Guiana, and is also found in Canada. It is a very sprightly, unsuspi- 
cious, and familiar little bird ; is often seen in and about gardens, 
among the blossoms of fruit-trees and shrubberies ; and, on account 
of its color, is very noticeable. Its nest is built with great neatness, 
generally in the triangular fork of a small shrub, near or among brier 
bushes. Outwardly it is composed of flax or tow, in thick, circular 
layers, strongly twisted round the twigs that rise through its sides, 
and lined within with hair and the soft downy substance from the 
stalks of fern. The eggs are four or five, of a dull white, thickly 
sprinkled near the great end with specks of pale brown. They raise 
two broods in the season. This little bird, like many others, will feign 
lameness to draw you away from its nest, stretching out his neck, 
spreading and bending down his tail, until it trails along the branch, 
and fluttering feebly along, to draw you after him ; sometimes looking 
back, to see if you are following him, and returning back to repeat the 
same manoeuvres, in order to attract your attention. The male is 
most remarkable for this practice. 

The Blue-eyed Warbler is five inches long, and seven broad ; hind 
head and back, greenish yellow ; crown, front, and whole lower parts, 
rich golden yellow ; breast and sides, streaked laterally with dark red ; 
wings and tail, deep brown, except the edges of the former, and the 
inner vanes of the latter, which are yellow ; the tail is also slightly 
forked; legs, a pale clay color; bill and eyelids, light blue. The fe- 
male is of a less brilliant yellow, and the streaks of red on the breast 
are fewer and more obscure. BufFon is mistaken in supposing No. 1. 
of PI. enl. plate Iviii. to be the female of this species. 
15 



170 GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER. 



GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER. — SYLVIA CHRYSOPTERA. 

— Fig. 69. 

^rft«. 299. — Le Figuier aux ailes dorees, Buff. v. SM. — Lath. ii. 4^92. — Arct. 
Zool. 403, No. 295. lb. No. 296. — Motacifla chrysoptera, Turt. Syst. i. 597.— 
Mot. flavifrons, Yellow-fronted Warbler, Id. 60L — Parus a) is aureis, Bartram, 
D. 292. — Peak's Museum, No. 7010. 

VERMIVORA CHRYSOPTERA. — Sw^insoti. 

Sylvia chrysoptera, Bonap. Synop. p. 87. 

This is another spring passenger through the United States to the 
north. This bird, as well as Fig. 67, from the particular form of its bill, 
ouglit rather to be separated from the Warblers ; or, along with several 
others of the same kind, might be arranged as a sub-genera, or partic- 
ular family of that tribe, which might with propriety be called Worm- 
eaters, the Motacilla vermivora of Turton having the bill exactly of 
this form. The habits of these birds partake a good deal of those of 
the Titmouse ; and, in their language and action, they very much re- 
semble them. All that can be said of this species is, that it appears 
in Pennsylvania for a few days, about the last of April or beginning 
of May, darting actively among the young leaves and opening buds, 
and is rather a scarce species. 

The Golden- winged Warbler is five inches long, and seven broad ; 
the crown, golden yellow ; the first and second row of wing-coverts, 
of the same rich yellow ; the rest of the upper parts, a deep ash, or 
dark slate color ; tail, slightly forked, and, as well as the wings, edged 
with whitish ; a black band passes through the eye, and is separated 
from the yellow of the crown, by a fine line of white ; chin and throat, 
black, between which and that passing through the eye runs a strip 
of white, as in the figure ; belly and vent, white ; bill, black, gradually 
tapering to a sharp point ; legs, dark ash ; irides, hazel. 

Pennant has described this species twice, first, as the Golden- 
winged Warbler, and, immediately after, as the Yellow-fronted 
Warbler. See the synonymes at the beginning of this article. 



BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER.— SYLVIA 
CANADENSIS. — Fig. 70. 

Motacilla Canadensis, I-mn. St/sf. 336. — Le Figuier bleu, Buff. v. 304. PI. enl 
685, fig. 2. — Lath. Syn. ii. p. 487, No. 113. — Edw. 25^. — Arct. Zool. p. 399, 
No. 285. —Peak's Museum, No. 7222. 

SYLVICOLA CAJK'j3DEJ\rSIS. — Syf Aiysov. 

Sylvia Canadensis, Bonap. Sij7iop. p. 84. 

1 KNOW little of this bird. It is one of those transient visitors that, 
in the month of April, pass through Pennsylvania, on its way to the 



AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. 171 

north, to breed. It has much of the Flycatcher in its manners, though 
the form of its bill is decisively that of the Warbler. These birds are 
occasionally seen for about a week or ten days, viz., from the 25th of 
April to the end of the first week in May. I sought for them in the 
Southern States in winter, but in vain. It is highly probable that they 
breed in Canada; but the summer residents among the feathered race 
on that part of the continent are little known or attended to. The 
habits of the bear, the deer, and beaver, are much more interesting to 
those people, and for a good, substantial reason too, because more lu- 
crative ; and unless there should arrive an order from England for a 
cargo of skins of Warblers and Flycatchers, sufficient to make them 
an object worth speculation, we are likely to know as little of them 
hereafter as at present. 

This species is five inches long, and seven and a half broad, and is 
wholly of a fine, light slate color above ; the throat, cheeks, front and 
upper part of the breast, are black; wings and tail, dusky black, the 
primaries marked with a spot of white immediately below their coverts ; 
tail, edged with blue ; belly and vent, white ; legs and feet, dirty yel- 
low ; bill, black, and beset with bristles at the base. The female is 
more of a dusky ash on the breast, and, in some specimens, nearly 
white. 

They, no doubt, pass this way on their return in autumn, for I have 
myself shot several in that season ; but as the woods are then still 
thick with leaves, they are much more difficult to be seen, and make 
a shorter stay than they do in spring. 



AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. — FALCO SPARVERIUS — 
Fig. 71. — Female. 

Emerillon de St. Domingue, £uf. i. 291. PL enl. 465. — Arct. Zool. 212. — Little 
Falcon, Lath. Syn. i. p. 110, No. 94. lb. 95. — Peak's Museum, No. 389. 

FALCO SPARVERIUS. — Untixva. 

Falco sparverius, Bonap. Synop. p. 27. — Falco sparverius, Little Rusty-crowned 
• Falcon, North. Zool. ii. p. 31. 

In no department of ornithology has there been greater confusion, 
or more mistakes made, than among this class of birds of prey. The 
great difference of size between the male and female, the progressive 
variation of plumage to which, for several years, they are subject, and 
the difficulty of procuring a sufficient number of specimens for exam- 
ination, — all these causes conspire to lead the naturalist into almost 
unavoidable mistakes. For these reasons, and m order, if possible, to 
ascertain each species of this genus distinctly, I have determined, 
where any doubt or ambiguity prevails, to represent both male and 
female, as fair and perfect specimens of each may come into my pos- 
session. According to fashionable etiquette, the honor of precedence, 



172 AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. 

in the present instance, is given to the female of this species ; both 
because she is the most courageous, the largest and handsomest of 
the two, best ascertained, and less subject to change of color than the 
male, who will require some further examination, and more observa- 
tion, before we can venture to introduce him. 

This bird is a constant resident in almost every part of the United 
States, particularly in the states north of Maryland. In the Southern 
States there is a smaller species found, w^hich is destitute of the black 
spots on the head ; the legs are long and very slender, and the wings 
light blue. This has been supposed, by some, to be the male of the 
present species ; but this is an error. The eye of the present species 
IS dusky ; that of the smaller species a brilliant orange ; the former 
nas the tail rounded at the end, the latter slightly /orA-e^/. Such essen- 
tial differences never take place between two individuals of the same 
species. It ought, however, to be remarked, that in all the figures and 
descriptions I have hitherto met with of the bird now before us, the 
iris is represented of a bright golden color ; but, in all the specimens I 
have shot, I uniformly found the eye very dark, almost black, resem- 
bling a globe of black glass. No doubt the golden color of the iris 
would give the figure of the bird a more striking appearance ; but, in 
works of natural history, to sacrifice truth to mere picturesque effect 
is detestable, though, I fear, but too often put in practice. 

The nest of this species is usually built in a hollow tree ; generally 
pretty high up, where the top, or a large limb, has been broken off. I 
have never seen its eggs ; but have been told tliat the female gener- 
ally lays four or five, which are of a light brownish yellow color, spot- 
ted with a darker tint ; the young are fed on grasshoppers, mice, and 
small birds, the usual food of the parents. 

The habits and manners of this bird are well known. It flies rather 
irregularly, occasionally suspending itself in the air, hovering over a 
particular spot for a minute or two, and then shooting off in another 
direction. It perches on the top of a dead tree or pole, in the middle 
of a field or meadow, and, as it alights, shuts its long wings so sud- 
denly, that they seem instantly to disappear ; it sits here in an almost 
perpendicular position, sometimes for an hour at a time, frequently 
jerking its tail, and reconnoitring the ground below, in every direc- 
tion, for mice, lizards, &c. It approaches the farm-house, particularly 
in the morning, skulking about the barn-yard for mice or young chick- 
ens. It frequently plunges into a thicket after small birdi, as if by 
random, but always with a particular, and generally a fatal, aim. One 
day I observed a bird of this species perched on tJie highest top of a 
large poplar, on the skirts of the wood, and Avas in the act of raising 
the gun to my eye, when he swept down, with the rapidity of an ar- 
row, into a thicket of briers, about thirty yards off, where I siiot him 
dead, and, on coming up, found the small Field Sparrow (Fig. 72) quiv- 
ering in his grasp. Both our aims had been taken in the same instant, 
and, unfortunately for him, both were fatal. It is particularly fond of 
watching along hedge-rows, and in orchards, where those small birds 
represented in tlie same plate usually resort. When grasshoppers are 
plenty, they form a considerable part of its food. 

Though small snakes, mice, lizards, &c., be favorite morsels with 



AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. 173 

this active bird, yet ■vve are not to suppose it altogether destitute of 
deJicacy in feeding. It will seldom or never eat of any thing that it 
lias not itself killed, and even that, if not (as epicures Avould term it) 
in good eating order, is sometimes rejected. A very respectable friend, 
through the medium of Mr. Bartram, informs me, that one morning he 
observed one of these Hawks dart down on the ground, and seize a 
mouse, which he carried to a fence post, where, after examining it for 
some time, he left it, and, a little while after, pounced upon another 
mouse, which he instantly carried off to his nest, in the hollow of a 
tree hard by. The gentleman, anxious to know why the Hawk had 
rejected the first mouse, went up to it, and found it to be almost cov- 
ered with lice, and greatly emaciated ! Here was not only delicacy 
of taste, but sound and prudent reasoning: — If I carry this to my 
nsst, thought he, it will fill it with vermin, and hardly be worth 
eating. 

The Blue Jays have a particular antipathy to this bird, and frequently 
insult it by following and imitating its notes so exactly, as to deceive 
even those well acquainted with both. In return for all this abuse, the 
Hawk contents himself with, now and then, feasting on the plumpest 
of his persecutors, who are, therefore, in perpetual dread of him ; and 
yet, through some strange infatuation, or from fear that, if they lose 
sight of him, he may attack them unawares, the Sparrow Hawk no 
sooner appears than the alarm is given, and the whole posse of Jays 
follow. 

The female of this species, which is here faithfully represented 
from a very beautiful living specimen, furnished by a particular friend, 
is eleven inches long, and tAventy-three from tip to tip of the expanded 
wings. The cere and legs are yellow ; bill, blue, tipped with black ; 
space round the eye, greenish blue ; iris, deep dusky ; head, bluish 
ash ; crown, rufous ; seven spots of black on a white ground surround 
the head, in the manner represented in the figure ; whole upper parts 
reddish bay, transversely streaked with black; primary and secondary 
quills, black, spotted on their inner vanes with brownish white ; whole 
lower parts, yellowish white, marked with longitudinal streaks of 
brown, except the chin, vent, and femoral feathers, which are white ; 
claws, black. 

The male of this species (which is an inch and a half shorter, has 
the shoulder of the wings blue, and also the black marks on the head, 
but is, in other respects, very differently marked from the female) will 
appear in an early part of the present work, with such other particu- 
lars as may be thought worthy of communicating.* 

* See description of male, and note, in a subsequent part of this work. 
15* 



174 FIELD SPARROW. 

FIELD SPARROW.* — FRINGILLA PUSILLA.— Fig. 72. 

Passer agrestis, Bartram, p. 29L — Peak's Museum^ No. 6560. 

EMBERIZA PJ7S7Z,L./J. — Jardine, Sw. MSS. 

Fringilla pusilla, Bonap. Synop. p. 110. 

This is the smallest of all our Sparrows, and, in Pennsylvania, is 
generally migratory. It arrives early in April, frequents dry fields 
covered with long grass, builds a small nest on the ground, generally 
at the foot of a brier ; lines it with horse hair ; lays six eggs, so 
thickly sprinkled with ferruginous, as to appear altogether of that tint ; 
and raises two, and often three, broods in a season. It is more 
frequently found in the middle of fields and orchards than any of the 
other species, which usually lurk along hedge-rows. It has no song, 
but a kind of cheruping, not much different from the chirpings of a 
cricket. Towards fall they assemble in loose flocks, in orchards and 
corn-fields, in search of the seeds of various rank weeds ; and are then 
very ntimerous. As the weather becomes severe, with deep snow, 
they disappear. In the lower parts of North and South Carolina, I 
found this species in multitudes in the months of January and Febru- 
ary. When disturbed, they take to the bushes, clustering so close 
together, that a dozen may easily be shot at a time. I continued to 
see them equally numerous through the whole lower parts of Georgia ; 
from whence, according to Mr. Abbot, they all disappear early in the 
spring. 

None of our birds have been more imperfectly described than that 
family of the Finch tribe usually called Sparrows. They have been 
considered as too insignificant for particular notice, yet they possess 
distinct characters, and some of them peculiarities well worthy of 
notice. They are innocent in their habits, subsisting chiefly on the 
small seeds of wild plants, and seldom injuring the property of the 
farmer. In the dreary season of winter, some of them enliven the 
prospect by hopping familiarly about our doors, humble pensioners on 
the sweepings of the threshold. 

The present species has never before, to my knowledge, been 
figured. It is five inches and a quarter long, and eight inches broad ; 
bill and legs, a reddish cinnamon color ; upper part of the head, deep 
chestnut, divided by a slight streak of drab, widening as it goes back ; 
cheeks, line over the eye, breast, and sides under the wings, a brownish 
clay color, lightest on the chin, and darkest on the ear-feathers ; a 

* The American Bunting Finches are most puzzling, the forms being constantly 
intermediate, and never assuming the true type. Mr. Svvainson has also felt lliis, 
and has been obliged to form a new genus, to contain one portion nearly inadmissi- 
ble to any of the others. Tlie present species will rank as allied nearest to the 
Reed Bunting of Europe, E. schcxniculus. Another, mentioned neither by Wilson 
nor Bonaparte, has been added by the over-land expedition, — Emberiza pallida, 
Clay-colored Bunting, Sw. and Richard. North. ZooL It approaches nearest to 
E. socialis, but differs in wanting the bright rufous crown, and having the ear- 
feathers brown, margined above and below with a dark edge. — Ed. 



TREE SPARROW. 175 

small streak of brown at the lower angle of the bill ; back, streaked 
with black, drab, and bright bay, the latter being generally centred 
with the former ; rump, dark drab, or cinereous ; wings, dusky black, 
the primaries edged with whitish, the secondaries bordered with bright 
bay ; greater wing-coverts, black, edged and broadly tipped with 
brownish white ; tail, dusky black, edged with clay color : male and 
female nearly alike in plumage ; the chestnut on the crown of the 
male rather brighter. 



TREE SPARROW. — FRIN GILL A ARBOREA. — Fig. 73. 

Le Soulciet, Buff. iii. 500. — Moineau de Canada, Briss. iii. 101. PL enl. 223.— 
Lath.u.'lbl. — Edw.^m. — Arct.Zool. p. 373, No. I^. — Peale's Museum, 
No. 6575. 

EMBERIZA CAJ^ADKN'SIS. — S wai nson. 

Fringilla Canadensis, Bonap. Synop. p. 109. — Emberiza Canadensis, North. Zool. 

ii. p. 252. 

This Sparrow is a native of the north, who takes up his winter 
quarters in Pennsylvania, and most of the Northern States, as well as 
several of the Southern ones. He arrives here about the beginning 
of November, and leaves us again early in April ; associates in flocks 
with the Snow Birds ; frequents sheltered hollows, thickets, and 
hedge-rows, near springs of water ; and has a low, warbling note, 
scarcely audible at the distance of twenty or thirty yards. If dis- 
turbed, he takes to trees, like the White-throated Sparrow, but contrary 
to the habit of most of the others, who are inclined rather to dive into 
thickets. Mr. Edwards has erroneously represented this as the female 
of the Mountain Sparrow ; but that judicious and excellent naturalist, 
Mr. Pennant, has given a more correct account of it, and informs us 
that it inhabits the country bordering on Hudson's Bay during sum- 
mer ; comes to Severn settlement in May ; advances farther north to 
breed ; and returns in autumn on its way southward. It also visits 
Newfoundland.* 

By some of our own naturalists, this species has been confounded 
with the Chipping Sparrow, (Fig. 75,) which it very much resembles, 
but is larger and handsomer, and is never found with us in summer. 
The former departs for the south about the same time that the latter 
arrives from the north ; and, from this circumstance, and their general 
resemblance, has arisen the mistake. 

The Tree Sparrow is six inches and a half long, and nine and a 
half in extent; the whole upper part of the head is of a bright reddish 
chestnut, sometimes slightly skirted with gray ; from the nostrils, over 
the eye, passes a white strip, fading into pale ash, as it extends back ; 
sides of the neck, chin, and breast, very pale ash ; the centre of the 
breast marked with an obscure spot of dark brown ; from the lower 

* Arctic Zoology, vol. ii. p. 373. 



176 SONG SPARROW. 

angle of the bill proceeds a slight streak of chestnut; sides, under the 
wings, pale brown ; back, handsome)}' streaked with pale drab, bright 
bay, and black ; lower part of the back and ramp, brownish drab ; 
lesser wing-coverts, black, edged witli pale ash : wings, black, broadly 
edged with bright bay; the first and second row of coverts, tipped with 
pure white ; tail, black, forked, and exteriorly edged with dull white ; 
belly and vent, brownish white ; bill, black above, yellOw below ; legs, 
a brownish clay color ; feet, black. The female is about half an inch 
shorter; the chestnut or bright bay on the wings, back, and crown, is 
less brilliant ; and the white on the coverts narrower, and not so pure. 
These are all the differences I can perceive.* 



SONG SPARROW. — FRINGILLA MELODIA. — Fig. 74. 

Fasciated Finch ? Arct. Zool. p. 375. No. 2.52. — Peak's Museum, No. 6573. 

EMBERIZA 1 1 MELODLI. — Jardine. 

Bonap. Synop. p. 108. — The Song Sparrow, And. pi. 25, Om. Biog. i. p. 126. 

So nearly do many species of our Sparrows approximate to each 
other in plumage, and so imperfectly have they been taken notice of, 
that it is absolutely impossible to say, with certainty, whether the 
present species has ever been described or not. And yet, of all our 
SparroAvs, this is the most numerous, the most generally diffused over 
the United States, and by far the earliest, sweetest, and most lasting 
songster. It may be said to be partially migratory, many passing to 
the south in the month of November ; and many of them still remain- 
ing with us, in low, close, sheltered meadows and swamps, during the 
whole of Avinter. It is the first singing bird in spring, taking prece- 
dence even of the Pewee and Blue-Bird. Its song continues occa- 
sionally during the whole summer and fall, and is sometimes heard 
even in the depth of winter. The notes, or chant, are short, but very 
sweet, resembling the beginning of the Canary's song, and frequently 
repeated, generally from the branches of a bush or small tree, where 
it sits chanting for an hour together. It is fond of frequenting the 
borders of rivers, meadows, swamps, and such like watery places ; and, 
if wounded, and unable to fly, will readily take to the water, and swim 
with considerable rapidity. In the great cypress swamps of the 
Southern States, in the depth of winter, I obser\-ed multitudes of these 
birds mixed with several other species ; for these places appear to be 
the grand winter rendezvous of almost all our Sparrows. I have found 

* Peculiar to America, and we should say, ^o'mg more off from llie g'roup than 
F. socialis, Wils.,as mentioned by Swainson in the Nortliern Zoology. — Ed. 

+ I have been puzzled where to place this bird — in Emheriza, or as a sub-g-cnus 
of it. There seems much difference in the form of the bill, though it has " a rudi- 
ment of the knob." I have been unable to obtain a specimen for comparison. 
Mr. Swainson thinks it connects the American Bunting with his Zonotrichia. — El). 



CHIPPING SPARROW. 177 

this bird in every district of the United States, from Canada to the 
southern boundaries of Georgia ; but Mr. Abbot informs me that he 
knows of only one or two species that remain in that part of Georgia 
during the summer. 

The Song Sparrow buikls in the ground, under a tufl of grass ; the 
nest is formed of line, dry grass, and lined with horse hair ; the eggs 
are four or five, thickly marked with spots of reddish brown, on a 
white, sometimes bluish wliite, ground ; if not interrupted, raises three 
broods in the season. I have found his nest witli young as early as 
the 2(jth of April, and as late as the 12th of August. What is sin- 
gular, the same bird often fixes his nest in a cedar-tree, five or six feet 
from the ground. Supposing this to have been a variety, or different 
species, I have examined the bird, nest, and eggs, with particular care, 
several times, but found no difference. I have observed the same 
accidental habit in the Red-winged Blackbird, which sometimes builds 
among the grass, as well as on alder bushes. 

This species is six inches and a half long, and eight and a half in 
extent ; upper part of the head, dark chestnut, divided laterally by a 
line of pale dirty white ; spot at each nostril, yellow ochre ; line over 
the eye, inclining to ash ; chin, white ; streak from the lower mandi- 
ble, slit of the mouth, and posterior angle of the eye, dark chestnut ; 
breast, and sides under the wings, thickly marked with long-pointed 
spots of dark chestnut, centred with black, and running in chains ; 
belly, white ; vent, yellow ochre, streaked Avith brown ; back, streaked 
with black, bay, and pale ochre ; tail, brown, rounded at the end, the 
two middle feathers streaked down their centres with black ; legs, 
flesh colored ; Aving-coverts, black, broadly edged with bay, and tipped 
with yellowish white ; wings, dark brown. The female is scarcely 
distinguishable by its plumage from the male; The bill in both, 
horn colored. 



CHIPPING SPARROW. — FRINGILLA SOCIALIS. — Fig. 75. 

Passer domesticus, The Little House Sparrow, or Chipping Bird, Bartram, p. 291. 
— Peak's 3Iuseum, No. 6511. 

^MBERIZA SOC/^i/5. ~Sw*iifsoN. 

Fringilla socialis, Bonap. Synop. p. 109. 

This species, though destitute of the musical talents of the former, 
is, perhaps, more generally known, because more familiar, and even 
domestic. He inliabits, during summer, the city, in. common with 
man, building in the branches of the trees with which our streets and 
gardens are ornamented ; and gleaning up crumbs from our yards, and 
even our doors, to feed his more advanced young with. I have known 
one of these birds attend regularly every day, during a whole summer, 
while the family were at dinner, under a piazza, fronting the garden, 



178 SNOW BIRD. 

and pick up the crumbs that were thrown to him. This sociable 
habit, which continues chiefly during the summer, is a singular char- 
acteristic. Towards the end of summer he takes to the fields and 
hedges, until the weather becomes severe, with snow, when he departs 
for the south. 

The Chipping Bird builds his nest most commonly in a cedar bush, 
and lines it thickly with cow hair. The female lays four or five eggs, 
of a light blue color, with a few dots of purplish black near the great 
end. 

This species may easily be distinguished from the four preceding 
ones by his black bill and frontlet, and by his familiarity in summer ; 
yet, in the months of August and September, when they moult their 
feathers, the black on the front, and partially on tlie bill, disappears. 
The young are also without the black during the first season. 

The Chipping Sparrow is five inches and a quarter long, and eight 
inches in extent ; frontlet, black ; chin, and line over the eye, whitish ; 
crown, chestnut ; breast and sides of the neck, pale ash ; bill, in win- 
ter, black ; in summer, the lower mandible flesh colored ; rump, dark 
ash ; belly and vent, white ; back, variegated with black and bright 
bay ; wings, black, broadly edged with bright chestnut ; tail, dusky, 
forked, and slightly edged with pale ochre ; legs and feet, a pale flesh 
color. The female differs in having less black on the frontlet, and the 
bay duller. Both lose the black front in moulting. 



SNOW SIRD. — FRINGILLA HUDSONIA .*— Fig. 76. 

Fringilla Hudsonia, Tzirton, Syst. i. 568. — Emberiza hjemalis, Id. 531. — Lath. i. 
G6t — Ca^e.9*. i. 36 — Arct.'Zool. p. 359; No. 223. — Passer nivalis, Bartravi, 
p. 291. — f ea/e'5 Museum, No. 6532. 

FRmOILLA HYEJMLIS. — hiNSJEVS. 

Fringilla hyemalis, Bonap. .Synop. p. 109. — North. Zool. n. p. 259. — The Snow 
Bird, Atul. pi. 13, Orn. Biog. i. p. 72. 

This well-known species, small and insignificant as it may appear, 
is by far the most numerous, as well as the most extensively dissemi- 
nated, of all the feathered tribes that visit us from the frozen regions 
of the north, — their migrations extending from the arctic circle, and, 
probably, beyond it, to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, spreading 
over the whole breadtli of the United States, from the Atlantic Ocean 
to Louisiana ; how much farther westward, I am unable to say. About 
the 20th of October, they make their first appearance in those parts of 
Pennsylvania east of tlie Alleghany Mountains. At first they are 
most generally seen on the borders of woods among the falling and 
decayed leaves, in loose flocks of thirty or forty together, always 
taking to tlie trees when disturbed. As tjie weather sets in colder, 

* Nivalis of first edition. 



SNOW BIRD. 179 

they approach nearer the farm-house and villag^es ; and on the appear- 
ance of, what is usually called, falling; weather, assemble in larg-er 
flocks, and seem doubly diligent in searching for food. This increased 
activity is generally a sure prognostic of a storm. When deep snows 
cover the ground, they become almost half domesticated. They col- 
lect about the barn, stables, and other out-houses, spread over the 
yard, and even round the steps of the door ; not only in the country 
and villages, but in the heart of our large cities ; crowding around the 
threshold early in the morning, gleaning up the crumbs ; appearing 
very lively and familiar. They iiave also recourse, at this severe 
season, when the face of the earth is shut up from them, to the seeds 
of many kinds of weeds that still rise above the snow, in corners of 
fields, and low, sheltered situations, along the borders of creeks and 
fences, where they associate with several species of Sparrows, particu- 
larly those represented in Nos. 72, 73, and 74. They are, at this time, 
easily caught with almost any kind of trap ; are generally fat, and, it 
is said, are excellent eating. 

I cannot but consider this bird as the most numerous of its tribe 
of any within the United States. From the northern parts of the 
District* of Maine to the Ogeechee River in Georgia, — a distance, 
by the circuitous route in which I travelled, of more than 1800 miles, 
— I never passed a day, and scarcely a mile, without seeing numbers 
of these birds, and frequently large flocks of several thousands. Other 
travellers with whom I conversed, who had come from Lexington, in 
Kentucky, through Virginia, also declared that they found these birds 
numerous along the Avhole road. It should be observed that the road- 
sides are their favorite haunts, wjiere many rank weeds, that grow 
along the fences, furnish them with food, and the road with gravel. 
In the vicinity of places where they were most numerous, I observed 
the Small Hawk, represented in No. 71, and several others of 
his tribe, watching their opportunity, or hovering cautiously around, 
making an occasional sweep among them, and retiring to the bare 
branches of an old cypress to feed on their victims. In the month of 
April, when the weather begins to be warm, they are observed to 
retreat to the woods, and to prefer the shaded sides of hills and thick- 
ets ; at which time the males warble out a few very low, sv/eet notes, 
and are almost perpetually pursuing and fighting with each other. 
About the 20th of April, they take their leave of our humble regions, 
and retire to the north and to the high ranges of the Alleghany, to 
build their nests, and rear their young. In some of those ranges, in 
the interior of Virginia, and northward, about the waters of the west 
branch of the Susquehanna, they breed in great numbers. The nest 
is fixed in the ground, or among the grass, sometimes several being 
within a small distance of each other. According to the observations 
of the gentlemen residing at Hudson Bay Factory, they arrive there 
about the beginning of June, stay a week or two, and proceed farther 
north to breed. They return to that settlement in the autumn, on 
their way to the south. 

In some parts of New England, I found the opinion pretty general 
that the Snow Bird, in summer, is transformed into the Small Chipping 

* Now State of Maine. 



180 PINE FINCH. 

Sparrow, which we find so common in that season, and which is 
represented in No. 75. I had convinced a gentleman of New York 
of his mistake in this matter, by taking him to the house of a Mr. 
Gautier there, who amuses himself by keeping a great number of na- 
tive, as well as foreign, birds. This was in the month of July, and the 
8now Bird appeared there in the same colored plumage he usually 
has. Several individuals of the Chipping Sparrow were also in the 
same apartment. The evidence was, therefore, irresistible ; but, as I 
had not the same proofs to oifer to the eye in New England, I had not 
the same success. 

There must be something in the temperature of the blood or consti- 
tution of tliis bird, which unfits it for residing, during summer, in the 
lov/er parts of the United States, as the country here abounds with a 
great variety of food, of which, during its stay, it appears to be re- 
markably fond. Or, perhaps, its habit of associating in such numbers 
to breed, and building its nest with so little precaution, may, to insure 
its safety, require a solitary region, far from the intruding footsteps 
of man. 

The SnoAv Bird is six inches long, and nine in extent ; the head, 
neck, and upper parts of the breast, body, and wings, are of a deep 
slate color ; the plumage sometimes skirted with brown, which is the 
color of the young birds ; the lower parts of the breast, the whole bel'y, 
and vent, are pure white ; the three secondary quill-feathers next the 
body are edged with brown, the primaries ^vith white ; the tail is dusky 
slate, a little forked, the two exterior feathers wholly white, Avhich are 
fiirted out as it flies, and appear then very prominent ; the bill and legs 
are of a reddish flesh color ; the eye, bluish black. The female differs 
from the male in being considerably more brown. In the depth of 
winter, the slate color of the male becomes more deep, and much 
purer, the brown disappearing nearly altogether. 



PINE FINCH. — FRINGILLA PINUS. — Fig. 77. 

Peale^s Museum, No. 6577. 

C^RD UELIS PIJ\rUS. — SwAi NsoN. 

Fringilla pinus, (sub-genus Carduelis,) Bonap. Synop. p. 111. 

This little northern stranger visits us in the month of November, 
and seeks the seeds of the black alder on the borders of swamps, 
creeks, and rivulets. As the weather becomes more severe, and the 
seeds of the Pimis Caiiadcnsis are fully ripe, these birds collect in 
larger flocks, and take up their residence almost exclusively among 
these trees. In the gardens of Bush Hill, in the neighborhood of Phila- 
delphia, a flock of two or three liundred of these birds have regularly 
wintered many years ; where a noble avenue of pine-trees, and -walks 
covered with fine, white gravel, furnish them with abundance through 
the winter. Early in March, they disap])ear, cither to the north or to 



PINE FINCH. 181 

the pine woods that cover many lesser ranges of the Alleofliany. 
While here, they are often so tame as to allow you to walk within a 
few yards of the spot where a wliole Hock of tliem are sitting. TJiey 
flutter among tlie hranches, frequently lianging by the cones, and 
uttering a note almost exactly like that of the Goldfinch, (F.<m/i>.) I 
have not a doubt but this bird appears in a richer dress in summer in 
those places where he breeds, as he lias so very great a resemblance 
to the bird above mentioned, with whose changes we are well ac- 
quainted. 

The length of this species is four inches ; breadth, eight inches ; 
upper part of the head, the neck, and back, a dark flaxen color, 
streaked with black ; wings black, marked with two rows of dull 
white or cream color ; whole wing-quills, under the coverts, ricli yel- 
low, appearing even when the wings are shut ; rump and tail-coverts, 
yellowish, streaked with dark brown ; tail-featliers, rich yelloAv from 
the roots half way to the tips, except the tAvo middle ones, which are 
blackish brown, slightly edged with yellow ; sides, under the wings, 
of a cream color, with long streaks of black ; breast, a light flaxen col- 
or, with small streaks or pointed spots of black ; legs, purplisli brown ; 
bill, a dull horn color ; eyes, hazel. The female was scarcely distin- 
guishable by its plumage from the male. The New York Siskin of 
Pennant* appears to be only the Yellow-Bird [FringUla trisiis) in his 
winter dress. 

This bird has a still greater resemblance to the Siskin of Europe, 
[F. spinus,) and may, perhaps, be the species described by Turton f 
as the Black Mexican Siskin, which he says is varied above with black 
and yellowish, and is white beneath, and which is also said to sing 
finely. This change from flaxen to yellow is observable in the Gold- 
finch ; and no other two birds of our country resemble each other 
more than these do in their winter dresses. Should these surmises be 
found correct, a figure of this bird, in his summer dress, shall appear 
in some future part of our work. | 

* Arctic Zoologtj, p. 372, No. 243. t Turtok, vol. i. p. 560. 

X This is a true Siskin ; and we have a very accurate description of the general 
manners of the group in those of the individual now described by Wilson. liittlc 
seems to be known of their summer haunts 5 and, indeed, the more nortliern species 
remain in the same obscurity. They g-enerally all migrate, go north to breed, and 
winter in southern latitudes. The species of Great Britain and Europe performs a 
like migration, assembling in very large flocks during winter, feeding upon seeds, 
&c., and retiring north to breed. A few pairs, not performing the migration to its 
'itmosl northern extent, breed in the larger pine woods in the Highlands of Scot- 
land. In 1829, they were met with in June, ni a large fir wood at Killin. evidently 
breeding ; last year, they were known to breed in an extensive wood at New Ab- 
uey, in Galloway. In their winter migrations, they are not regular, particular 
districts being visited by them aluncerlaui periods. In Annandale, Dumtriesshire, 
Iney were always accounted rare, and the first pair I ever saw there wns shot in 
'827. Early in October, as the winter advanced, very large ilocks arrived, and 
fed chiefly upon the rag-weed, and under some large beech-trees, turning over the 
fallen mast, and eating part of the kernels, as well as any seeds they could find 
among them. In 1828, they again appeared ; but in 1829, not one was seen ; and 
ine present winter, (1830.) they are equally wanting. The plate of our author is 
that of the bird in its winter dress. As he justly observes, the plumage becomes 
much richer during the season of incubation. The black parts become brighter 
ind deeper, and the olive of a yellower green. — Ed. 

16 



182 ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. 



ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK * — LOXIA ROSEA. — Fig. 78. 

Loxia Ludoviciana, Turton's Sifst. — Red-breasted Grosbeak, Arct. Zool. p. 350, 
No. 212. — Red-breasted Finch, Id. 372, No. 245. — Le rose gorge, Buff. iii. 
460. — Gros-bec de la Louisiane, PL enl. 153, fig. 2. — Lath. ii. 126. — Feale's 
Museum, No. 5806, male j 5807, female j 5806, a, male of one year old. 

OUIKMCjI LUDOFJCMJ\''ji. — Svf Aissoy. 

Fringilla (sub-genus Coccolhraustes) Ludoviciana, Bonap. Synop. p. 113. — Coc- 
coiliraustes (Guiraca) Ludoviciana, North. Zool. i. p. 271. 

This elegant species is rarely found in tlie lower parts of Pennsyl- 
vania ; in the state of New York, and those of New England, it is 
more frequently observed, particularly in fall, when the berries of the 
sour gum are ripe, on the kernels of which it eagerly feeds. Some of 
its trivial names would import that it is also an inhabitant of Louisiana; 
but I have not heard of its being seen in any of the Southern States. 
A gentleman of Middletown, Connecticut, informed me that he kept 
one of these birds for some considerable time in a cage, and observed 
that it frequently sang at night, and all night ; that its notes were 
extremely clear and mellow, and the sweetest of any bird witli which 
he is acquainted. 

The bird from which the figure on the plate was taken, was shot, 
late in April, on the borders of a swamp, a few miles from Philadel- 
phia. Another male of the same species was killed at the same time, 
considerably different in its markings ; a proof that they do not ac- 
quire their full colors until at least the second spring or summer. 

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is eight inches and a half long, and 
thirteen inches in extent; the whole upper parts are black, except the 
second row of wing-coverts, which are broadly tipped with white ; a 
spot of the same extends over the primaries, immediately below their 
coverts; chin, neck, and upper part of the breast, black ; lower part of 
the breast, middle of the belly, and lining of the wings, a fine light 
carmine, or rose color; tail, forked, black, tiie tbree exterior feathers, 
on each side, white on their inner vanes for an inch or more from the 
tips ; bill, like tiiose of its tribe, very thick and strong, and pure white ; 
legs and feet, light blue; eyes, hazel. The young male of tlie first 
spring has the plumage of the back variegated with light brown, white 

* This species seems to have been described, under various specific names, by 
various authors. Wilson, in the body of his work, calls it L. rosea ; but ho corrects 
that name alterwards in the index, and restores that by which it must now stand. 
The generic appellation has also been various, and the necessity of some decided 
one cannot be better shown, than in the dilferent opinions expressed by naturalists, 
who have placed it in three or four of the known genera, without bein";- very well 
satisfied w ilh iiny of its situations, (iinielin and Latham have even placed the young 
and old in dillerent genera, Loxia and Frhi^i/la ; by Brissoii, it is a Coccothraus- 
t>>s ; and by JS.'ibine, a 7^//;//-;7/?</(r. It appears a form exclusively American, sup- 
planting tlie Coccotlinmstes of Asia and the Indian continent, and Guiraca has 
been appropriated to it by Air. Swainson, in which will also range the Cardinal and 
Blue Grosbeaks of our author. — Eu. 



BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER. 183 

and black ; a line of white extends over the eye ; the rose color also 
reaches to the base of the bill, where it is speckled with black and 
wliite. The female is of a light yellowish, flaxen color, streaked with 
dark olive, and whitish ; the breast is streaked with olive, pale flaxen, 
and white ; the lining of the wings is pale yellow ; tlie bill, more dusky 
than in the male, and the white on the wing less. 



BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER. — SYLVIA VIRENS.— 

Fig. 79. 

Molacilla virens, Gmel. SysL i. p. 985. — Le Filler a cravate noire, Btiff. v. p. 
298. — Black-throated Green Flycatcher, Edw. t. 300. — Green Warbler, Arct. 
Zool. ii. No. 191. — Lath. Sijn. iv. p. 484, lOS.— Turton, Sijst. p. 607. — Parus 
viridis gutture nigro, The Green Black-throated Flycatcher, Bartram, p. 292. 

SYLVICOLA r/R£JVS. — SwAiNsoN. 

Sylvia virens, Bonap. Synop. p. 80. 

This is one of those transient visitors that pass through Pennsyl- 
vania, in the latter part of April and beginning of May, on their way 
to the north to breed. It generally frequents the high branches and 
tops of trees, in the woods, in search of the lai-vfB of insects that prey 
on the opening buds. It has a few singular cheruping notes ; and is 
very lively and active. About the 1 0th of May it disappears. It is 
rarely observed on its return in the fall, which may probably be owing 
to the scarcity of its proper food at that season obliging it to pass 
with greater haste ; or to the foliage, which prevents it and other pas- 
sengers from being so easily observed. Some few of these birds, 
however, remain all summer in Pennsylvania, having myself shot three 
this season, (1809,) in the month of June ; but I have never yet seen 
their nest. 

This species is four inches and three quarters long, and seven 
broad ; the Avhole back, crown, and hind head, is of a rich yellowish 
green ; front, cheek, sides of the breast, and line over the eye, yellow ; 
chin and throat, black ; sides, under the wings, spotted with black ; 
belly and vent, white ; wings, dusky black, marked with two white 
bars ; bill, black ; legs and feet, brownish yellow ; tail, dusky, edged 
Avith light ash ; the three exterior feathers spotted on their inner webs 
with white. The female is distinguished by having no black on the 
throat. 



184 n:LLOW-RU3IPED WARBLER. 



YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. — SYLVIA CORONATA.— 
Fig. 80. 

Motacilla maculosa, Gniel. Syst. i. p. 9o4. — Motacilla coronata, Liim. Syst. i. p. 
332, No. 3L — Le Fig-uier att'te cendree, Duff. v. p. 29L — Le Figuier couronne 
d'or. Id. V. p. 312. — Vellow-Rump Flvcatcher, Edw. t. 2oo. — Golden-crowned 
Flycatcher. Id. t. 298. —Yellow-Rump Warbler, Arct. Zool. ii. No. 288. — Golden- 
crowned Warbler. M. ii. No. 2'n. — Lalh. Syn. iv. p. 48L No. 104. Id. Supp. p. 
182. Id. Syn. iv. p. 486. No. 11. — Turton, p. 599. Id. GOTi. — Parus cedrus uro- 
)V£:io flavo. — The Yellow Rump. Bartram, p. 292. — Parus aurio vertice. — 
"lie Golden-Crown Flycatcher, Id. 292. — Fecde's Museum, No. 7134. 



^i 



SYLyiCOJLi CORO.YATA. 



Sylvia coronata, Bonap. Synop. p. 77, (summer plumage.*) — Sylvicola coronata, 
Noi-th. Zool. ii. p. 216. 

I>^ this beautiful little species we have another instance of the mis- 
takes occasioned by the change of color to which many of our birds 
are subject. In the present case this change is both progressive and 
periodical. The young birds of the first season are of a brown olive 
above, which continues until the month of February and March; 
about which time it gradually changes into a fine slate color, as in Fig. 
80. About the middle of April this change is completed. I have 
shot them in all their gradations of change. While in their brown 
olive dress, the yellow on the sides of the breast and crown is scarcely 
observable, unless the feathers be parted with the hand ; but that on 
the rump is still vivid ; the spots of black on the cheek are then also 
obscured. The difference of appearance, however, is so great, that 
we need scarcely wonder that foreigners, who have no opportunity of 
examining the progress of these variations, should have concluded 
them to be two distinct species, and designated them as in tlie above 
synonymes. 

" This bird is also a passenger through Pennsylvania. Early in Oc-^ 
tober he arrives from the north, in his olive dress, and frequents the 
cedar-trees, devouring the berries with great avidity. He remains 
■with us three or four weeks, and is very numerous wherever there are 
trees of the red cedar covered with berries. He leaves us for the 
south, and spends the winter season among the myrtle swamps of Vir- 
ginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The berries of the Myrica cerifera, 
both the large and dwarf kind, are his particular favorites. On those 
of the latter I found them feeding, in great numbers, near the sea- 
shore, in the District of Maine, in October ; and through the whole of 
the lower parts of the Carolinas, wherever the myrtles grew, these 
birds were numerous, skipping about, with hanging wings, among the 
hushes. In those parts of the country, they are generally known by 
the name of Myrtle Birds. Roimd Savannah, and beyond it as far as 
the Altamaha, 1 found him equally numerous, as late as the middle of 
March, when liis ciiange of color had considerably progressed to the 
slate hue. Mr. Abbot, who is well acquainted with this change, assured 
me, that they attain this rich slate color fully before tlicir departure 

* Winter plumage, Fig. 187. 



CERULEAN WARBLER. 185 

from thence, which is about the last of March, and to the 10th of April. 
About the middle or 20th of the same mouth, they appear in Pennsyl- 
vania, in full dress, as represented in Fijr. 80 ; and after continuing to 
be seen, for a week or ten days, skippinrr among the high branches 
and tops of the trees, after those larvse that feed on the opening buds, 
they disappear until tlie next October. Whether they retire'^to the 
north, or to the high ranges of our mountains to breed, like many 
other of our passengers, is yet uncertain. They are a very numerous 
species, and always associate togetlier in considerable numbers, both 
in spring, winter, and fall. 

This species is five inches and a half long, and eight inches broad; 
whole back, tail-coverts, and hind head, a fine slate color, streaked 
with black ; crown, sides of the breast, and rump, rich yellow ; wings 
and tail, black ; the former crossed with two bars of white, the tliree 
exterior feathers of the latter, spotted Avith white ; cheeks and front, 
black ; chin, line over and under the eye, Avhite ; breast, light slate, 
streaked with black, extending under the wings ; belly and vent, white, 
the latter spotted with black; bill and legs, black. This is the spring 
and summer dress of the male; that of the female of t!ie same season 
differs but little, chiefly in the colors being less vivid, and not so 
strongly marked with a tincture of brownish on the back. 

In the month of October the slate color has changed to a brownish 
olive ; tlie streaks of black are also considerably brown, and the white 
is stained with the same color; the tail-coverts, however, still retain 
their slaty hue ; the yelloAv on the crown and sides of the breast be- 
comes nearly obliterated. Their only note is a kind of chip, occasion- 
ally repeated; their motions are quick, and one can scarcely ever 
observe them at rest 

Though the form of the bill of this bird obliges me to arrange him 
with the Warblers, yet, in his food and all his motions, he is decidedly 
a Flycatcher. 

On again recurring to the descriptions in Pennant of the "Yellow- 
Rump Warbler,"* "Golden-crowned Warbler," f and "Belted War- 
bler," | I am persuaded that the whole three have been drawn from 
the present species. 



CERULEAN WARBLER. — SYLVIA CGERULEA. — Fig. 8L 

Peak's Museum, No. 7309. 

SYLVICOLA CCERULEA. — Swainson. — Male. 

Sylvia azurea, Bonap. Synop. p. 85. — Sylvia azurea, Azure Warbler, Steph. Sh. 
Zool. X. n. 653. — Sylvia coerulea, Cerulean Warbler, Steph. Sh. Zool. x. p. 
652. — Sylvia bifasciata, Say, Jo urn. to Rocky Mount, i. p. 170. — The Azure 
Warbler, Sylvia azurea, Aud. pi. 48, male and female, Om. Biog. i. p. 255. 

This delicate little species is now, for the first time, introduced to 
public notice. Except my friend, Mr. Peale, I know of no other natu- 

* Arctic Zoology, p. 400, No. 183. f Ibid. No. 291. \ Ibid. No. 306. 

16* 



186 SOLITARY FLYCATCHER. 

ralist who seems to have hitherto known of its existence. At what 
time it arrives from the south I cannot positively say, as I never met 
with it in spring, but have several times found it during summer. On 
the borders of streams and marshes, among the branches of the poplar, 
it is sometimes to be found. It has many of the habits of the Fly- 
catcher ; though, like the preceding, from the formation of its bill, we 
must arrange it with the Warblers. It is one of our scarce birds in 
Pennsylvania, and its nest has hitlierto eluded my search. I have 
never observed it after the 20th of August, and therefore suppose it 
retires early to the south. 

This bird is four inches and a half long, and seven and a half broad ; 
the front and upper part of the head is of a fine verditer blue ; the 
hind head and back, of the same color, but not quite so brilliant ; a 
few lateral streaks of black mark the upper part of the back ; wings 
and tail, black, edged with sky blue ; the three secondaries next the 
body, edged with white, and the first and second row of coverts also 
tipped with white; tail-coverts, large, black, and broadly tipped with blue; 
lesser wing-coverts, black, also broadly tipped with blue, so as to appear 
nearly wholly of that tint ; sides of the breast, spotted or streaked with 
blue ; belly, chin, and throat, pure white ; the tail is forked, the five 
lateral feathers on each side with each a spot of white; the two middle 
more slightly marked with the same ; from the eye backwards extends 
a line of dusky blue ; before and behind the eye, a line of white ; bill, 
dusky above, light blue below ; legs and feet, light blue. 



SOLITARY FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA SOLITARIA.— 
Fig. 82. 

VIREO SOZ/703i2/?7S. — ViEiLLOT. 

Vireo solitarius, Bonap. Synop. p. 70. 

This rare species I can find nowhere described. I have myself 
never seen more than three of them, all of whom corresponded in their 
markings ; and, on dissection, were found to be males. It is a silent, 
solitary bird. It is also occasionally found m the state of Georgia, 
where I saw a drawing of it in the possession of Mr. Abbot, who con- 
sidered it a very scarce species. He could give me no information 
of the female. The one from which Fig. 82 was taken, was shot 
in Mr. Bartram's Avoods, near Philadelpliia, among the branches of 
dogwood, in the month of October. It appears to belong to a particu- 
lar family, or subdivision of the Muscicapa genus, among wiiich are 
the WJiite-eycd, the Yellow-throated, and several others already de- 
scribed in the present work. Why one species should be so rare, 
while another, much resembling it, is so numerous, at least a tJiousand 
for one, is a question I am unable to answer, unless by supposing tlie 
few we meet with here to be accidental stragglers from the great 
body which may have their residence in some other parts of our ex- 
tensive continent. 



cow BUNTING. 187 

The Solitary Flycatcher is five inches long, and eight inches in 
breadth ; cheeks, and upper part of the head and neck, a fine bluish 
gray ; breast, pale cinereous ; flanks and sides of the breast, yellow ; 
whole back and tail-coverts, green olive ; Avings, nearly black ; tlie first 
and second row of coverts, tipped with white ; the three secondaries next 
the body, edged with pale yelloAvish white ; the rest of the quills, bor- 
dered with light green ; tail, slightly forked, of the same tint as the 
wing.^, and edged with light green ; from the nostrils a line of wlnte 
proceeds to and encircles the eye ; lores, black ; belly and vent, white ; 
upper mandible, black ; lower, light blue ; legs and feet, liglit blue ; 



COW BUNTING.* — EMBERIZA PECORIS. — Figs. 83, 84, 85. 

Le Brimet, Buff. iv. 138. — Le Pinion de Virginie, Briss. iii. 165. — Cow-Pen 
Bird. Catesbl i. Z^. — Lath. ii. 269.— Jrcf. Zool. p. 371, No. 211.— Sturnus 
stercorarius, Bartram, p. 291. — Peak's Museum, No. 6378, male} 6379, female. 

MOLOTHRUS PJSC0/2/S. — Swainson. 

Fr'mgilla pecoris, Sab. Frank. Journ. p. 676. — Sturnus junceti, Z,a</;. hid. Orn. — 
Emheriza pecoris, iJona;;. Nomencl. No. 89. -Icterus pecoris, Bonap. Sijnop. 
p. 53. — Aglaius pecoris, Sw. Sijnop. Birds of Mex. Phil. Mas;. June, 1827, p. 
436. — The Cow-Pen Bird, Aud. pi. 99, Orn. Biog. i. p. 493. — Molothrus 
pecoris, North. Zool. ii. p. 277. 

There is one striking peculiarity in the works of the great Creator, 
which becomes more amazing the more we reflect on it ; namely, that 
he has formed no species of animals so minute, or obscure, that are not 
invested with certain powers and peculiarities, both of outward con- 
formation and internal faculties, exactly suited to their pursuits, suffi- 
cient to distinguish them from all others ; and forming for them a 
character solely and exclusively their own. This is particularly so 
among the feathered race. If there be any case where these charac- 
teristic features are not evident, it is owing to our want of observation ; 
to our little intercourse with that particular tribe ; or to that contempt 
for inferior animals, and all their habitudes, which is but too general, 
and Avliich bespeaks a morose, unfeeling, and unreflecting mind. 
These peculiarities are often surprising, always instructive where 
imderstood, and (as in the subject of our present chapter) at least 
amusing, and worthy of being ftirther investigated.! 

* The American Cuckoo (Cuciilus Carol inensis) is by many people called the 
Cow IVird, from the sound of its notes resembling" the words Cow, cotv. This bird 
builds its own nest %'ery artlessly in a cedar or an apple-tree, and lays four green- 
ish blue eggs, Mhich it hatches, and rears its young with great tenderness. 

t In this curious species, we have another instance of those wonderful provisions 
of Nature, which have hitherto balTled the knowledge and perseverance of man to 
discover for what uses they were intended. The only authenticated instance of a 
like circumstance that we are aware of, is in the economy of the Common Cuckoo 
of Europe. Some foreign species, which rank as true Ciicnli, are said to deposit 
tlieir eggs in the nests of other birds ; but I am not sure that the fact is confirmed. 
\\ ilh regard to the birds in question, there is little common between them, except 



188 cow BUNTING. 

The most remarkable trait in the character of this species is, tlie 
unaccountable practice it has of dropping its eggs into the nests of 
other birds, instead of building and hatching lor itself; and thus en- 
tirely abandoning its progeny to the care and mercy of strangers. 
More than two thousand years ago, it was well known, in those 
countries where the bird inhabits, that the Cuckoo of Europe [Cucidus 
canorus) never built herself a nest, but dropped her eggs in the nests of 
other birds ; but, among the thousands of different species that spread 
over that and other parts of the globe, no other instance of the same 
uniform habit has been found to exist, until discovered in the bird now 
before us. Of the reality of the former there is no doubt ; it is known 
to every school-boy in Britain ; of the truth of the latter I can myself 
speak with confidence, from personal observation, and from tlie testi- 
mony of gentlemen, unknown to each other, residing in difFerent and 
distant parts of the United States. The circumstances by which I 
became first acquainted with this peculiar habit of the bird are as 
folloAvs : — 

I had, in numerous instances, found, in the nests of three or four 
particular species of birds, one egg, much larger, and difi^erently 
marked from those beside it ; I had remarked, that these odd-looking 
eggs were all of the same color, and marked nearly in the same man- 
ner, in whatever nest they lay, though frequently the eggs beside 
them were of a quite different tint; and I had also been told, in a 
vague way, that the Cow Bird laid in other birds' nests. At length I 
detected the female of this very bird in the nest of the Red-eyed Fly- 
catcher, which nest is very small, and very singularly constructed. 
Suspecting her purpose, I cautiously withdrew Mithout disturbing lier; 
and had the satisfaction to find, on my return, that the egg which she 
had just dropped corresponded as nearly as eggs of the same species 
usually do, in its size, tint, and markings, to those formerly taken 
notice of Since that time, I have found the young Cow Bunting, in 
many instances, in the nests of one or other of tliese small birds ; 1 
have seen these last followed by tlie young Cow Bird calling out 
clamorously for food, and often engaged in feeding it; and 1 have 
now, in a cage before me, a very fine one, wliich, six months ago, I 
took from the nest of the Maryland Yellow-Throat, and from which the 
figures of the young bird and male Cow Bird in the plate were taken : 
the figure in the act of feeding it, is the female Maryland Yellow- 
Throat, in whose nest it was found. I claim, however, no merit for a 
discovery not originally my own, these singular habits having long 

that both are migratory, and both deposit their eggs in tiic nest of an alien. The 
Cow IJuntin"' is polyjianious ; and I strongly suspect that our Cuckoo is the same. 
In the deposition of the egg-, the mode of j)roccdure is nearly similar ; great uneasi- 
ness, and a sort of fretting, previously, with a calm of quiet satisfaction afterwards. 
In both species we have beautiful provisions to insure the non-dislurbance of the 
intruder by its foster-progeny : in the one, by a greater strength, easily overcoming 
ajid driving out tlie natural but more tender young ; in all love of the natural 
ofispring being destroyed in t!ie parents, and succeeded by a powerful desire to 
preserve and rear to maturity the usurper of their rights: m the other, where the 
young would, in some instances, be of a like size and strength, and where a combat 
might prove fatal in an opposite direction to the intentions of Providence, all ne- 
cessity of contest is at once avoided by the eggs of the Cow Bunting requiring a 
shorter period to hatch than any of the birds chosen as foster-parents. — Ed. 



cow BUNTING. 189 

been known to people of observation resident in the country, whose 
information, in this case, has preceded that of all our school philoso- 
phers and closet naturalists, to Avlioni the matter has, till now, been 
totally unknown. 

About the 25th of March, or early in April, the Cow-Pen Bird makes 
his first appearance in Pennsylvania from the south, sometimes in 
company with the Red- winged Blackbird, more frequently in detached 
parties, resting early in the morning, an hour at a time, on the tops of 
trees near streams of water, appearing solitary, silent, and fatigued. 
They continue to be occasionally seen, in small, solitary parties, par- 
ticularly along creeks o^nd banks of rivers, so late as the middle of 
June ; after Avhich, we see no more of them until about the beginning 
or middle of October, when they reappear in much larger flocks, gen- 
erally accompanied by numbers of the RedAvings ; between whom 
and the present species there is a considerable similarity of manners, 
dialect, and personal resemblance. In these aerial voyages, like other 
experienced navigators, they take advantage of the direction of the 
wind, and always set out witii a ftivorable gale. My venerable and 
observing friend, Mr. Bartram, writes me, on the 13th of October, as 
follows: — "The day before yesterday, at the height of the north-cast 
storm, prodigious numbers of the Cow-Pen Birds came by us, in several 
flights of some thousands in a flock; many of them settled on trees in 
tlie garden to rest themselves, and then resumed their voyage south- 
wards. There were a few of their cousins, the Redwings, with them. 
We sliot three, a male and two females." 

From the early period at which these birds pass in the spring, it is 
highly probable that their migrations extend very far north. Those 
which pass in the months of March and April can have no opportunity 
of depositing their eggs here, there being not more than one or two of 
our small birds which build so early. Those that pass in May and 
June are frequently observed loitering singly about solitary thickets, 
reconnoitring, no doubt, for proper nurses, to whose care they may 
conmiit the hatching of their eggs, and the rearing of their helpless 
orphans. Among the birds selected for this duty are the following, 
all of which are figured and described in this volume: — The Blue- 
Bird, which builds in a hollow tree ; the Chipping Span-ow, in a cedar 
bush ; the Golden-crowned Thrush, on the gi-ound, in the shape of an 
oven ; the Red-eyed Flycatcher, a neat, pensile nest, hung by the two 
upper edges on a small sapling, or drooping branch ; the Yellow-Bird, 
in the fork of an alder ; the Maryland Yellow-Throat, on the ground, 
at the roots of brier bushes ; the White-eyed Flycatcher, a pensile 
nest on the bending of a smilax vine ; and the small Blue-gray Fly- 
catcher, also a pensile nest, fastened to the slender twigs of a tree, 
sometimes at the height of fifty or sixty feet from tlie ground. The 
three last-mentioned nurses are represented on tlie same plate with 
tlie bird now under consideration. There are, no doubt, others to 
whom the same charge is committed ; but all these I have myself met 
with acting in that capacity. 

Among these, the Yellow-Throat and the Red-eyed Flycatcher ap- 
pear to be particular favorites ; and the kindness and affectionate at- 
tention which these tv/o little birds seem to pay to their nurslings, 
fully justify the partiality of the parents. 



190 cow BUNTING. 

It is well known to those who have paid attention to the manners of 
birds, that, after their nest is fully finished, a day or two generally 
elapses before the female begins to lay. This delay is in most cases 
necessary to give firmness to the yet damp materials, and allow them 
time to dry. In this state it is sometimes met with, and laid in by the 
Cow Bunting ; the result of which I have invariably found to be the 
desertion of the nest by its rightful owner, and the consequent loss of 
the egg thus dropped in it by the intruder. But when the owner herself 
has begun to lay, and there are one or more eggs in the nest before 
the Cow Bunting deposits hers, the attachment of the proprietor is 
secured, and remains unshaken until incubation is fully performed, 
and the little stranger is able to provide for itself. 

The well-known practice of the young Cuckoo of Europe in turn- 
ing out all the eggs and young which it feels around it, almost as soon 
as it is hatched, has been detailed in a very satisfactory and amusing 
manner by the amiable Dr. Jenner,* who has since risen to immortal 
celebrity in a much nobler pursuit; and to whose genius and humani- 
ty the whole human race are under everlasting obligations. In our 
Cow Bunting, though no such habit has been observed, yet still there 
is something mysterious in the disappearance of the nurse's own eggs 
soon after the foundling is hatched, which happens regularly before 
all the rest. From twelve to fourteen days is the usual time of incu- 
bation with our small birds ; but although I cannot exactly fix the 
precise period requisite for the egg of the Cow Bunting, I think I can 
say almost positively, that it is a day or two less than the shortest of 
the above-mentioned spaces ! In this singular circumstance, we see 
a striking provision of the Deity ; for did this egg require a day or 
two more, instead of so much less, than those among which it has 
been dropped, the young it contained would in every instance most 
inevitably perish; and thus, in a few years, the whole species must 
become extinct. On the first appearance of the young Cow Bunting, 
the parent being frequently obliged to leave the nest to provide sus- 
tenance for the foundling, the business of incubation is thus necessarily 
interrupted ; the disposition to continue it abates ; nature has now 
given a new direction to the zeal of the parent ; and the remaining 
eggs, within a day or two at most, generally disappear. In some in- 
stances, indeed, they have been found on the ground near, or below, 
the nest ; but this is rarely the case. 

I have never known more than one egg of the Cow Bunting 
dropped in the same nest. This egg is somewhat larger than that of the 
Blue-Bird, thickly sprinkled with grains of pale brown on a dirty white 
ground. It is of a size proportionable to that of the bird. 

So extraordinary and unaccountable is this habit, that I have some- 
times thought it might not be general among the whole of this species 
in every situation ; that the extreme heat of our summers, though suit- 
able enough for their young, might be too much for the comfortable 
residence of the parents ; that, therefore, in their way to the north, 
through our climate, they were induced to secure suitable places for 
their progeny ; and that in the regions where they more generally 
pass the summer, they might perhaps build nests for tliemselves, and 

* See Philosophical Transactioixs for 1788, part u. 



cow BUNTING. 191 

rear their own young, like every other species around them. On tlie 
other hand, when I consider that many of them tarry here so hue as 
the middle of June, dropping their eggs, from time to time, into every 
convenient receptacle — that in the states of Virginia, Maryland, Del- 
aware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, they uniformly retain the same 
habits — and, in short, that in all these places I have never yet seen 
or heard of their nest, — reasoning from these facts, I think T may 
safely conclude that they never build one ; and that in those remote 
northern regions their manners are the same as we find them here. 

What reason Nature may have for this extraordinary deviation 
from her general practice is, I confess, altogether beyond my compre- 
hension. There is nothing singular to be observed in the anatomical 
structure of the bird that would seem to prevent or render it incapa- 
ble of incubation. The extreme heat of our climate is probably one 
reason why, in the months of July and August, they are rarely to be 
seen here. Yet Ave have many other migratory birds that regularly 
pass through Pennsylvania to ttie north, leaving a few residents be- 
hind them, who, without exception, build their oAvn nests and rear 
their own young. This part of the country also abounds Avith suita- 
ble food, such as they usually subsist on. Many conjectures indeed 
might be formed as to the probable cause ; but all of them that have 
occurred to me are unsatisfactory and inconsistent. Future and more 
numerous observations, made Avith care, particularly in those coun- 
tries Avhere they most usually pass the summer, may throw more light 
on this matter ; till then, Ave can only rest satisfied Avith the reality of 
tlie fact. 

This species winters regularly in the lower parts of North and 
South Carolina and Georgia; I have also met Avith them near Wil- 
liamsburg, and in several other parts of Virginia. In January, 1809, 
I observed strings of them for sale in the market of Charleston, South 
Carolina. They often frequent corn and rice fields, in company Avith 
their cousins, as Mr. Bartram calls them, the Red-Avinged Blackbirds ; 
but are more commonly found accompanying the cattle, feeding on 
the seeds, Avorms, &c., Avhich they pick up amongst the fodder, and 
from the excrements of the cattle, Avhich they scratch up for this pur- 
pose. Hence they have pretty generally obtained the name of Cow- 
Pen Birds, Cow Birds, or Coiv Blackbirds. By the naturalists of Eu- 
rope they have hitherto been classed with the Finches, though im- 
properly, as they have no family resemblance to that tribe, sufficient 
to justify that arrangement. If Ave are to be directed by the conforma- 
tion of their bill, nostrils, tongue, and claAvs, Ave cannot hesitate a 
moment in classing them Avith the Red-Avinged Blackbirds, Oriolus 
phceniceus ; not, hoAvever, as Orioles, but as Buntings, or some neAv 
intermediate genus ; the notes or dialect of the Cow Bunting and 
those of the RedAvings, as Avell as some other peculiarities of voice 
and gesticulation, being strikingly similar. 

Respecting this extraordinary bird, I have received communications 
from various quarters, all corroborative of the foregoing particulars. 
Among these is a letter from Dr. Potter, of Baltimore, Avhich, as it 
contains some ncAv and interesting facts, and several amusing inci- 
dents, illustrative of the character of the bird, I shall Avith pleasure 
lay before the reader, apologizing to the obliging Avriter for a feyf 



192 cow BUNTING. 

unimportant omissions which have been anticipated in the preceding 
pages. 

"I regret exceedingly that- professional avocations have put it out 
of my power to have replied earlier to your favor of the 19th of Sepn 
tember; and although I shall not now reflect all the light you desire, 
a faithful transcript from memoranda, noted at the moment of observa- 
tion, may not be altogether uninteresting. 

"The Fringilla pecoris is generally known in Maryland by the name 
of the Cow Blackbird ; and none but the naturalist view it as a distinct 
species. It appears about the last of March, or first week in April, 
though sometimes a little earlier, when the spring is unusually for- 
ward. It is less punctual in its appearance than many other of our 
migratory birds. 

" It commonly remains with us till about the last of October, though 
unusually cold weather sometimes banishes it much earlier. It, how- 
ever, sometimes happens that a few of them remain with us all winter, 
and are seen hovering about our barns and farm-yards when straitened 
for sustenance by snow or hard frost. It is remarkable that in some 
years I have not been able to discover one of them during the months 
of July and August; when they have suddenly appeared in Septem- 
ber in great nunjbers. I have noticed this fact always immediately 
after a series of very hot weather, and then only. The general opin- 
ion is, that they then retire to the deep recesses of the shady forest ; 
but, if tliis had been the fact, I should probably have discovered them 
in my rambles in every part of tlje woods. I think it more likely that 
they migrate farther north, till they find a temperature more congenial 
to their feelings, or find a richer repast in following the cattle in a 
better pasture.* 

" In autumn, we often find them congregated with the Marsh Black- 
birds, committing their common depredations upon the ears of the In- 
dian corn ; and at other seasons, the similarity of their pursuits in 
feeding introduces them into the same company. I could never ob- 
serve that they would keep the company of any other bird. 

" The Cow-Pen Finch differs, moreover, in another respect, from all 
the birds with which I am acquainted. After an observance of many 
years, I could never discover any thing Yike pairins;^ or a mutual at- 
tachment between the sexes. Even in tlie season of love, when other 
birds are separated into pairs, and occupied in the endearing office of 
providing a receptacle for tlieir off*spring, the FringillcB are seen feed- 
ing in odd as well as even numbers, from one to twenty, and discov- 
ering no more disposition towards perpetuating their species than birds 

* " It may not be improper to remark licre, that the appearance of this bird in 
spring is sometimes looked for with anxiety by the farmers. If the horned cattle 
happen to be diseased in spring-, they ascribe it to worms, and consider tiie pursuit of 
the birds as an unerring indication of the necessity of medicine. Allhougli this h}'- 
pothcsis of the worms infesting the cattle so as to produce much disease, is problem- 
atical, their superabundance at this season cannot l)e denied. The larva» of several 
species are deposited in the vegetables when green, and the cattle are fed on tliem 
as fodder in wniler. This furnishes the principal inducement for the bird to follow 
the cattle in spring, when the aperient elfecls of the green grasses evacuate great 
numl)ers of worms. At this st^ason the iVro/-?.* often stuffs Its crop with them till 
it can contain no more. There arc several species, but the most numerous is a 
Mnall while one similar to, if not the same as, the Ascaris of the human species." 



cow BUNTING. 193 

of any other species at other seasons, excepting a promiscuous con- 
cubinage, which pervades the whole tribe. When the female separates 
from the company, her departure is not noticed ; nrf gallant partner 
accompanies her, nor manifests any solicitude in her absence ; nor is 
her return greeted by that gratulatory tenderness that so eminently 
characterizes the males of other birds. The male proffers the same 
civilities to any female, indiscriminately, and they are reciprocated ac- 
cordingly, Avithout exciting either resentment or jealousy in any of the 
party. This want of sexual attachment is not inconsistent with the 
general economy of this singular bird; for, as they are neither their 
own architect, nor nurse of their own young, the degree of attachment 
that governs others would be superfluous. 

" That the Fmisrilla never builds a nest for itself, you may assert 
without the hazard of a refutation. I once offered a premium for the 
nest, and the negroes in the neighborhood brought me a variety of 
nests ; but they were always traced to some other bird. The time of' 
depositing their eggs is from the middle of April to the last of May, or 
nearly so ; corresponding with the season of laying observed by the 
small birds on whose property it encroaches. It never deposits but 
one egg in the same nest, and this is generally after the rightful ten- 
ant begins to deposit hers, but never, I believe, after she has com-- 
menced the process of incubation. It is impossible to say how many 
they lay in a season, unless they could be watched when confined in 
an aviary. 

" By a minute attention to a number of these birds when they feed 
in a particular field, in the laying season, the deportment of the 
female, when the time of laying draws near, becomes particularly in- 
teresting. She deserts hor associates, assumes a drooping, sickly as- 
pect, and perches upon some eminence where she can reconnoitre the 
operations of other birds in the process of nidification. If a discovery 
suitable to her purpose cannot be made from her stand, she becomes 
more restless, and is seen flitting from tree to tree, till a place of de- 
posit can be found. I once had an opportunity of witnessing a scene 
of this sort, which T cannot forbear to relate. Seeing a female prying 
into a bunch of bushes in search of a nest, I determined to see the 
result, if practicable ; and, knowing how easily they are disconcerted 
by the near approach of man, I mounted my horse, and proceeded 
slowly, sometimes seeing and sometimes losing sight of her, till I had 
travelled nearly two miles along the margin of a creek. She entered 
every thick place, prying with the strictest scrutiny into places 
where the small birds usually build, and at last darted suddenly into 
a thick copse of alders and briers, where she remained five or six 
minutes, when she returned, soaring above the underwood, and re- 
turned to the company she had left feeding in the field. Upon enter-- 
ing the covert, I found the nest of a Yellow-Throat, with an egg of 
each. Knowing the precise time of deposit, I noted the spot and date, 
with a vieAv of determining a question of importance — the time re- 
quired to hatch the egg of the Cow Bird, which I supposed to com- 
mence from the time of the Yellow-Throat's laying the last egg. A 
few days afler, the nest was removed, I knew not how, and I was dis- 
appointed. In the progress of the Cow Bird along the creek's side, 
she entered the thick boughs of a small cedar, and returned several 
17 



194 cow BUNTING. 

times before she could prevail on herself to quit the place ; and, upon 
examination, I found a Sparrow sitting on its nest, on which she, no 
doubt, Avould have stolen in the absence of the owner. It is, I believe, 
certain that the Cow-Pen Finch never makes a forcible entry upon 
the premises by attacking other birds, and ejecting them from their 
rightful tenements, although they are all, perhaps, inferior in strength, 
except the Blue-Bird, which, although of a mild as Avell as affectionate 
disposition, makes a vigorous resistance when assaulted. Like most 
other tyrants and thieves, they are coAvardly, and accomplish by stealth 
vrhat they cannot obtain by force. 

" The deportment of the Yellow-Throat, on this occasion, is not to 
be omitted. She returned while I waited near the spot, and darted 
into her nest, but returned immediately, and perched upon a bough 
near the place ; remained a minute or two, and entered it again; re- 
turned, and disappeared. In ten minutes, she returned with the male. 
They chattered with great agitation for half an hour, seeming to par- 
ticipate in the affront, and then left the place. I believe all tlie birds 
thus intruded on manifest more or less concern at finding the egg of 
a stranger in their own nests. Among these, the Span-ow is particu- 
larly punctilious ; for she sometimes chirps her complaints for a day 
or t^vo, and often deserts the premises altogether, even after she has 
deposited one or more eggs. The following anecdote will show, not 
only that the Cow-Pen Finch insinuates herself slyly into the nests 
of other birds, but that even the most pacific of them will resent the 
insult. A Blue-Bird had built, for three successive seasons, in tlie 
cavity of a mulberry-tree near my dwelling. One day, when the nest 
was nearly finished, I discovered a female Cow Bird perched upon a 
fence-stake near it, with her eyes apparently fixed upon the spot, 
while the builder was busy in adjusting her nest. The moment she 
left it, the intruder darted into it, and in five minutes returned, and 
sailed off to her companions with seeming delight, which she ex- 
pressed by her gestures and notes. The Blue-Bird soon returned, and 
entered the nest, but instantaneously fluttered back, with much appar- 
ent hesitation, and perched upon the highest branch of the tree, utter- 
ing a rapidly-repeated note of complairit and resentment, wliich soon 
brought the male, Avho reciprocated her feelings by every demonstra- 
tion of the most vindictive resentment They entered tlie nest togeth- 
er, and returned several tiines, uttering their uninterrupted complaints 
for ten or fifteen minutes. The male then darted away to the neigh- 
boring trees, as if in quest of the offender, and fell upon a Cat Bird, 
which he chastised severely, and then turned to an innocent Sparrow 
that was chanting its ditty in a peach-tree. Notwithstanding the af- 
front was so passionately resented, I found the Blue-Bird had laid an 
egg the next day. Perhaps a tenant less attached to a favorite spot 
would liave acted more fastidiously, by deserting the premises alto- 
gether. In this instance, also, I determined to watch the occurrences 
that were to follow; but, on one of my morning visits, I found tlie 
common enemy of tlie eggs and young of all tlie small birds had de- 
spoiled the nest, — a Coluber was found coiled in tlie hollow, and the 
eggs sucked. 

" Agreeably to my observation, all the young birds destined to cher- 
ish the young Cow Bird are of a mild and afiTcctionate disposition ; and 



cow BUNTING. 195 

it is not less remarkable that they are all smaller than the intruder ; 
the Blue-Bird is the only one nearly as large. This is a g'ood-natured, 
mild creature, althoug-h it makes a vigorous defence when assaulted. 
The Yellow-Throat, the Sparrow, the Goldfinch, the Indigo Bird, and 
tlie Blue-Bird, are the only birds in whose nests 1 have found the eggs 
or the young of the Cow-Pen Finch, though, doubtless, there are some 
others. 

" What becomes of the eggs or young of the proprietor ? This i.^ 
the most interesting question that a])pertains to this subject. There 
must be some special law of nature which determines that the young 
of the proprietors are never to be found tenants in common Avith the 
young Cow Bird. I shall offer the result of my own experience on 
this point, and leave it to you and others better versed in the mysteries 
of nature than I am, to draw your own conclusions. Whatever theory 
may be adopted, the facts must remain the same. Having discovered 
a Sparrow's nest with five eggs, four and one, and the Sparrow sitting, 
I watched the nest daily. The egg of the Cow Bird occupied the 
centre, and those of the Sparrow were pushed a little up the sides of 
the nest. Five days after the discovery, I perceived the shell of the 
Finch's egg broken, and the next, the bird was hatched. The Span-ov/ 
returned, while I was near the nest, with her mouth full of food, Avith 
Av'hich she fed the young Cow Bird, with every possible mar]f of affec- 
tion, and discovered the usual concern at my approach. On the suc- 
ceeding day, only tAvo of the Sparrow's eggs remained, and the next 
day there Avere none. I sought in vain for them on the ground, and 
in every direction. 

"Having found the eggs of the Coav Bird in the nest of a Yellow- 
Throat, I repeated my obsen^ations. The process of incubation had 
commenced, and on the seventh day from the discovery, I found a 
young Coav Bird that had been hatched during my absence of tAventy- 
four hours, all tlie eggs of the proprietor remaining. I had not an op- 
portunity of visiting the nest for three days, and, on my return, there 
Avas only one egg remaining, and that rotten. The Yellow-Throat 
attended the young interloper Avith the same apparent care and affec- 
tion as if it had been its oAvn offspring. 

" The next year, my first discovery was in a Blue-Bird's nest built 
in a holloAv stump. The nest contained six eggs, and the process of 
incubation Avas going on. Three or four days after my first visit, I 
found a young Coav Bird, and three eggs remaining. I took the eggs 
out ; two contained young birds, apparently come to their full time, 
and the other Avas rotten. I found one of the other eggs on the 
ground at the foot of the stump, differing in no respect from those in 
tlie nest, no signs of life being discoverable in either. 

" Soon after this, T found a Goldfinch's nest, Avith one egg of each 
only, and I attended it carefully till the usual complement of the 
OAvner Avere laid. Being obliged to leave home, I could not ascertain 
precisely when the process of incubation commenced ; but, from my 
reckoning, I think the egg of tlie Coav Bird must have been hatched 
in nine or ten days from the commencement of incubation. On my 
return, I found the young Coav Bird occupying nearly the whole nest, 
and the foster-mother as attentive to it as she could have been to her 
OAA^n. I ought to acknoAvledge here, that in none of these instances could 



196 cow BUNTING. 

1 ascertain exactly the time required to hatch the Cow Bird's eggs, and 
that, of course, none of them are decisive; but is it not strange that 
the egg of the intruder should be so uniformly the first hatched ? The 
idea of the egg being larger, and therefore, from its own gravity, find- 
ing the centre of the nest, is not sufficient to explain the phenomenon ; 
for in tiiis situation the other eggs would be proportionably elevated 
at the sides, and therefore receive as much or more Avarmth from the 
body of the incumbent than the other.* This principle would scarcely 
apply to the eggs of the Blue-Bird, for they are nearly of the same 
size ; if there be any difference, it would be in favor of the eggs of 
the builder of the nest. How do the eggs get out of the nest ? Is it 
by the size and nestling of the young Cow Bird ? This cannot al- 
ways be tlie case ; because, in the instance of the Blue-Bird's nest in 
the hollow stump, the cavity was a foot deep, the nest at the bottom, 
and the ascent perpendicular ; nevertheless, the eggs were removed, 
although filled with young ones. Moreover, a young Cow-Pen Finch 
is as helpless as any other young bird, and so far from having the 
power of ejecting others from the nest, or even the eggs, that they are 
sometimes found on the ground under the nest, especially when the 
nest happens to be very small. I will not assert that the eggs of the 
builder of the nest are never hatched ; but I can assert that I liave 
never been able to find one instance to prove the affirmative. If all 
the eggs of both birds were to be hatched, in some cases the nest 
vrould not hold half of them ; for instance, those of the Sparrow or 
Yellow-Bird. I will not assert that the supposititious egg is brought 
to perfection in less time than those of the bird to which the nest be- 
longs ; but, from the facts stated, I am inclined to adopt such an opin- 
ion. How are the eggs removed, after the accouchement of tlie spu- 
rious occupant ? By the proprietor of the nest, unquestionably ; for 
this is consistent with the rest of her economy. After the power of 
hatching them is taken away by her attention to the young stranger, 
the eggs would be only an encumbrance, and therefore instinct 
prompts her to remove them. I might add that I liave sometimes 
found the eggs of the SparroAv, in which Avere unmatured young ones, 
lying near the nest containing a Cow Bird, and therefore I cannot re- 
sist this conclusion. Would the foster-parent feed two species of 
young at the same time ? I believe not. I have never seen an in- 
stance of any bird feeding the young of another, unless immediately 
after losing her own. I should think the sooty-looking stranger Avould 
scarcely interest a mother, while the cries of her own offspring, al- 
ways intelligible, were to be heard. Should such a competition ever 
take place, I judge the stranger Avould be the sufferer, and probably 
the species soon become extinct. Why the lex naturce, conservatrix 
should decide in favor of the surreptitious progeny, is not for me to 
detcrmme. 

" As to the vocal powers of this bird, I believe its pretensions are 
very humble, none of its notes deserving the epithet musical. The 
sort of simple, cackling complaint it utters at being disturbed, consti- 

* The ingenious writer seems not to be aware tliat almost all birds are in the 
habit, while sitliii"-, of changing- the eggs from the centre to the circumference, Euid 
vice versa, that all of them may receive an equal share of warmth. 



cow BUx\TING. 197 

tutes also the expression of its pleasure at finding its companions, 
varying only in a more rapidly repeated monotony. Tlie deportment 
of the male, during his prouiiscuous intercourse with the other sex, 
resembles much that of a pigeon in the same situation. He uses 
nearly the same gestures ; and, by attentively listening, you will hear 
a low, guttural sort of muttering, which is the most agreeable of his 
notes, and not unlike the cooing of a pigeon. 

"This, sir, is the amount of my information on tiiis subject, end is 
no more than a transcript from my notes made several years ago. 
For ten years past, since I have lived in this city, many of the 
impressions of nature have been effaced, and artificial ideas have 
occupied their places. The pleasure I formerly received in viewing 
and examining the objects of nature are, however, not entirely for- 
gotten ; and those which remain, if they can interest you, are entirely 
at your service. With the sincerest wishes for tlie success of your 
useful and arduous undertaking, I am, dear sir, yours very respect- 
fully, Nathaniel Potter." 

To the above very interesting detail I shall add the following recent 
fact which fell under my own observation, and conclude my account 
of this singular species. 

In the month of July last, I took from the nest of the Maryland Yellov/- 
Throat, svhich was built among the dry leaves at the root of a brier bush, 
a young male Cow Bunting, which filled and occupied the whole nest 
1 had previously Avatchod the motions of the foster-parents for more 
than an hour, in order to ascertain whether any more of their young 
were lurking about or not ; and was fully satisfied that there were 
none. They had, in all probability, perished in the manner before 
mentioned. I took this bird home with me, and placed it in the same 
cage with a Red-Bird, [Loxia cardinalis,) who, at first, and for several 
minutes after, examined it closely, and seemingly with great curiosity. 
ft soon became clamorous for food, and from that moment the Red- 
Bird seemed to adopt it as his own, feeding it with all the assiduity 
and tenderness of the most affectionate nurse. When he found that 
the grasshopper which he had brought it was too large for it to swallow, 
he took the insect fronl it, broke it in small portions, chewed them a 
little to soften them, and, with all the gentleness and delicacy imagi- 
nable, put them separately into its mouth. He often spent several 
minutes in looking at and examining it all over, and in picking off" any 
particles of dirt that he observed on its plumage. In teaching and 
encouraging it to learn to eat of itself, he often reminded me of the 
lines of Goldsmith, — 

He tried each art, reproved each dull delay, 
Allured to "favonte/ood," and led the way. 

This Cow Bird is now six months old ; is in complete plumage ; 
and repays the affectionate services of his foster-parent with a fre- 
quent display of all the musical talents with which nature has gifted 
him. These, it must be confessed, are far from being ravishing ; yet, 
for their singularity, are worthy of notice. He spreads his "wings, 
swells his body into a globular form, bristling every feather in the 
17* 



198 MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT. 

manner of a Turkey cock, and, with great seeming difficulty, utters a 
few low, spluttering notes, as if proceeding from his belly ; always, 
on these occasions, strutting in front of the spectator with great con- 
sequential affectation. 

To see the Red-Bird, who is himself so excellent a performer, 
silently listening to all this guttural splutter, reminds me of the great 
Handel contemplating a wretched catgut scraper. Perhaps, however, 
these may be meant for the notes of love and gratitude, which are 
sweeter to the ear, and dearer to the heart, than all the artificial solos 
or concertos on this side heaven. 

Tlie length of this species is seven inches, breadth eleven inches ; 
the head and neck are of a very deep silky drab ; tlie upper part of 
the breast, a dark changeable violet ; the rest of the bird is black, 
with a considerable gloss of green when exposed to a good light; the 
form of the bill is faithfully represented in the plate — it is evidently 
that of an Emheriza ; the tail is slightly forked ; legs and claws, 
glossy black, strong and muscular ; iris of the eye, dark hazel. Catesby 
says of this bird, '• It is all over of a brown color, and sometJiing 
lighter below ;" a description that applies only to the female, and has 
been repeated, in nearly tlie same words, by almost all succeeding 
ornithologists. The young male birds are at first altogether brown, 
and for a month, or more, are naked of feathers round the eye and 
mouth ; the breast is also spotted hke that of a Thrush, with light 
drab and darker streaks. In about two months after they leave the 
nest, the black commences at the shoulders of the wings, and gradu- 
ally increases along each side, as the young feathers come out, until 
the bird appears mottled on the back and breast with deep black and 
light drab. At three months, the colors of the plumage are complete, 
and, except in moulting, are subject to no periodical change. 



MARYLAND YELLOW-THROAT — SYLVIA MARILANDICA. 

— Fig. S6. — Female. 

TRICIMS PERSOX^ TUS. — Swainson. — Female. 

The male of this species having already been represented,* 
accompanied by a particular detail of its manners, I have little further 
to add here relative to this bird. I found several of them round Wil- 
mington, North Carolina, in the month of January, along the margin 
of the river, and by the Cypress Swamp, on the opposite side. The 
individual from which the figure in tlie plate was taken, was the actual 
nurse of t!ie young Cow-Pen Bunting, which it is represented in the 
act of feeding. 

It is five inciics long, and seven in extent ; the wliole upper parts, 
green olive ; sometliing brownish on the neck, tips of the wings, and 
head ; the lower parts, yellow, brightest on the throat and vent ; legs, 

* See Fisf. 19. 



SMALL BLUE-GRAY FLYCATCHER. 199 

flesh colored. The chief diiference between this and the male, in the 
markings of their plumage, is, that the female is destitute of the black 
bar through the eyes, and the bordering one of pale bluish white. 



SMALL BLUE-GRAY FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA 
CCERULEA. — Fig. 87. 

Motacilla coerulea, Turton, Syst. i. p. 612. — Blue F\ycatcher, Ed w. pi. 302. — 
Regiilus griseus, the Lillle Bluish-gray Wren, 5ar/ram, p. 29L — Le figuiergris 
deiei,Buff. v. p. 309. — Cerulean Warbler, Arct. ZooL ii. No. 299. — La</i. 
Sijn. iv. p. 490, No. m. — Peale's Museum, No. 6829. 

CULICIVORA CCERULEjJ. — Sw AiTisoy* 

Culicivora, Sw. Neic Groups in Orn. Zool. Journ. No. 11, p. 359. — Sylvia 
coerulea, Bonap. Syjiop. p. 85. — The Blue Gray Flycatcher, Aud. pi. 84, 'male 
and female J Orn.Biog. i. p. 431. 

This diminutive species, but for the length of the tail, would rank 
next to our Humming Bird in magnitude. It is a very dexterous 
flycatcher, and has also something of the manners of the Titmouse, 
with whom, in early spring, and fall, it frequently associates. It 
arrives in Pennsylvania, from the south, about the middle of April ; 
and, about the beginning of May, builds its nest, Avhich it generally 
fixes among the twigs of a tree, sometimes at the height of ten feet 
from the ground, sometimes fifty feet high, on the extremities of the 
tops of a high tree in the woods. This nest is formed of very slight 
and perishable materials, — the husks of buds, stems of old leaves, 
withered blossoms of weeds, down from the stalks of fern, coated on 
the outside with gray lichen, and lined with a few horse hairs. Yet 
in this frail receptacle, which one Avould think scarcely sufficient to 
admit the body of the owner, and sustain even its weight, does the 
female Cow Bird venture to deposit her egg; and to the manage- 
ment of these pygmy nurses leaves the fate of her helpless young. 
The motions of this little bird are quick ; he seems always on the 
lonk-out for insects ; darts about from one part of the tree to another, 
with hanging Avings and erected tail, making a feeble chirping, tsee, 
tftce, no louder than a mouse. Though so small in itself, it is ambi- 
tious of hunting on the highest branches, and is seldom seen among 
the humbler thickets. It remains Avith us until the 20th or 28th of 
September ; after Avhich we see no more of it until the succeeding 
spring. I observed this bird near Savannah, in Georgia, early in 
March; but it does not winter even in the southern parts of that 
state. 

The length of this species is four inches and a half; extent, six and 
a half; front, and line over the eye, black ; bill, black, very slender, 

* This species will represent another lately-formed genus, of which the Mnsci- 
capa stennra of Temminck's PL coloriees forms the type. Jt is a curious group, 
connecting Tyrannula, Setophaga, the Flycatchers, aud the Sylviadce. — Ed. 



200 WHITE-EVED FLYCATCHER. 

overhanginof at the tip, notched, broad, and furnished with bristles at 
tlie base; Ihe color of the plumage above is a light bluish gray, 
bluest on the head, below bluish white ; tail, longer than the body, a 
little rounded, and black, except the exterior feathers, which are al- 
most all white, and the next two also tipped Avith white ; tail-coverts, 
black ; wings, brownish black, some of the secondaries next tlie body 
edged with white ; legs, extremely slender, about three fourths of an 
inch long, and of a bluish black color. The female is distinguished 
by wanting the black line round the front 

' The food of this bird is small winged insects, and their lan'se, but 
particularly the former, which it seems almost always in pursuit of. 



WHITE-EYED FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA CANTATRIX.— 

Fig. 88. 

Muscicapa Noveboracensis, Gmel. Sj/s^ i. p. 947. — Hanging Flycatcher, Lath. 
Sijn. Siipp. p. 174. — Arct. Zool. p. 389, No. 274. — 3Iuscicapa cantatrix, the 
Little Domestic Flycatcher, or Green Wren. Bartram, ^.^2^JQ. — PeaLe's Mu- 
seum, No. 6778. 

VIRE JVO VEB ORA CE.YSIS. — Bona parte. 

Vireo Noveboracensis, Bojiap. Synop. p. 70. — The White-Eyed Flycatcher/ or 
Vireo, Aud. pi. 63, male j Om. Biog. i. p. 328. 

This is another of the Cow Bird's adopted nurses ; a lively, active, 
and sociable little bird, possessing a strong voice for its size, and a 
great variety of notes ; and singing with little intermission, from its 
first arrival, about the middle of April, till a little before its departure 
in September. On the 27th of February, I heard this bird in the 
southern parts of the state of Georgia, in considerable numbers, sing- 
ing with great vivacity. They had only arrived a few days before. 
Its arrival in Pennsylvania, after an interval of seven weeks, is a proof 
that our birds of passage, particularly the smaller species, do not mi- 
grate at once from south to north ; but progress daily, keeping com- 
pany, as it were, with the advances of spring. It has been obser\'ed 
in the neighborhood of Savannah so late as the middle of Novem- 
ber ; and probably winters in Mexico and the West Indies. 

This bird builds a very neat little nest, often in tlie figure of an in- 
verted cone ; it is suspended, by the upper edge of tlie two sides, on 
tlie circular bend of a prickly vine, — a species of sniilax that gener- 
ally grows in low tliickets. Outwardly, it is constructed of va- 
rious light materials, bits of rotten wood, fibres of dry stalks of weeds, 
pieces of paper, commonly newspapers, an article almost always found 
about its nost, so that some of my friends have given it the name of 
the Pulllidan ; all tliose substances are interwoven with the silk of 
caterpillars, and tlie inside is lined with fine, dry grass and hair. The 
female lays five eggs, pure white, marked near the great end witli a 
very few snuill dots of dec^p black or purple. They ^generally raise 
two broods in a seaaon. They seem particularly attached to tickets 







I? 



MOTTLED OWL. 291 

of tliis species of smilax, and make a great ado when any one comes 
near their nest ; approachini^ within a few feet, looking down, and 
scolding with great vehemence. In Pennsylvania tliey are a numer- 
ous species. 

The White-eyed Flycatcher is five inches and a quarter long, and 
seven in extent ; the upper parts are a fine yellow olive, those below, 
white, except the sides of the brenst, and under the wings, which are 
yellow ; line round the eye, and spot near the nostril, also rich yel- 
low ; wings, deep dusky black, edged with olive green, and crossed 
with two bars of pale yellow ; tail, forked, brownish black, edged with 
green olive ; bill, legs, and feet, light blue ; the sides of the neck in- 
cline to a grayish ash. The female and young of the fii'st season are 
scarcely distinguishable in plumage from the male. 



MOTTLED OWL. — STRIX NiEVIA. — Fig. 89. 

Arct. Zool. 231, No. US. — Lath. i. 126.— Turton, i. 161.- Peak's Museum, 

No. 444. 

STRIX ./3S/0— Li NNJEUS.* 

Strix asio, Bonap. ^ynop. p. 36. — Hibou asio, Temm. PL col. pi. 80. — The 
LiUle Screech Owl, And. pi. 97, adult and young j Orn. Biog. i. p. 4C6. 

On contemplating the grave and antiquated figure of this night 
wanderer, so destitute of every thing like gracefulness of shape, I can 
scarcely refrain from smiling at the conceit of the ludicrous appear- 
ance this bird must have made, had Nature bestowed on it the powers 
of song, and given it the faculty of warbling out sprightly airs, while 
robed in such a solemn exterior. But the great God of Nature hath, 

* The difference in the plumage of the young and old has caused Wilson to 
fall into a mistake, and multiply species, by introducing the different stales under 
distinct specific appellations. Li Fig. 174, is represented the young plumage of 
the bird, under the name which must be adopted for it, as the original one of Lin- 
napus. The Tawny Owls of this country present similar changes, and Avcre long 
held as distinct, until accurate observers proved their difference. C. L. Bonaparte 
appears to have been the first who made public mention of the confusion which 
existed ; and Mr. Audubon has illustrated the sexes and young in one of his best 
plates. The species appears peculiar to America. They are scarce in the southern 
districts ; but above the Falls of the Ohio they increase in number, and are plenti- 
ful in Virginia, Maryland, and all the eastern districts. Its range to the northward 
perhaps is not very extensive ; it does not appear to have been met with in the last 
over-land expedition, no mention being made of it in the Northern Zoolos;''/. The 
flight of this Owl, like its congeners, is smooth and noiseless. By Audubon, it is 
said sometimes to rise above the top branches of the highest forest-trees, while in 
pursuit of large beetles, and at other times to sail low and swiftly over the fields 
or through the woods, in search of small birds, field mice, moles, or wood rats, 
from which it chiefly derives its subsistence. According to some gentlemen, the 
nest is placed at the bottom of the hollow trunk of a tree, often not at a greater 
heig^ht than six or seven feet from the ground, at other times so high, as from thirty 
to forty. It is composed of a few grasses and feathers. The eggs are four or 
five, of a nearly globular form, and pure while color. — Ed. 



202 MOTTLED OWL. 

in His wisdom, assigned to tliis class of birds a more unsocial, and 
Jess noble, though, perhaps, not less useful, disposition, by assimila- 
ting them, not only in form of countenance, but in voice, manners, and 
appetite, to some particular beasts of prey ; secluding them from the 
enjoyment of the gay sunshine of day, and giving them little more 
than the few solitary hours of morning and evening twilight, to pro- 
cure their food and pursue their amours ; while all the tuneful tribes, 
a few excepted, are wrapt in silence and repose. That their true 
character, however, should not be concealed from those weaker ani- 
mals on Avhom they feed, (for Heaven abhors deceit and hypocrisy,) 
He has stamped their countenance with strong traits of their murder- 
er, tlie cat ; and birds in this respect are, perhaps, better physiogno- 
mists than men. 

The Owl noAv before us is chiefly a native of the northern regions, 
arriving here, with several others, about the commencement of cold 
weather; frequenting the uplands and mountainous districts, in pref- 
erence to the lower parts of the country ; and feeding on mice, small 
birds, beetles, and crickets. It is rather a scarce species in Pennsyl- 
vania ; flies usually in the early part of night and morning ; and is 
sometimes observed sitting on the fences during day, when it is easily 
caught, its vision at that time being very imperfect. 

The bird represented in Fig. 89 was taken in this situation, and 
presented to me by a friend. I kept it in the room beside me for 
some time, during which its usual position was such as I have given 
it Its eyelids w'ere either half shut, or slowly and alternately open- 
ing and shutting, as if suffering from the glare of day ; but no sooner 
was the sun set than its whole appearance became lively and animated ; 
its full and globular eyes shone like those of a cat ; and it oflen 
lowered its head, in the manner of a cock when preparing to fight, 
moving it from side to side, and also vertically, as if reconnoitring you 
with great sharpness. In flying through tlie room, it shifted from 
place to place with the silence of a spirit, (if I may be allowed tlie 
expression,) the plumage of its wings being so extremely fine and soft 
as to occasion little or no friction with the air, — a Avise provision of 
Nature, bestowed on the whole genus, to enable them, without giving 
alarm, to seize their prey in the night. For an hour or two in the 
evening, and about break of day, it flew about with great activity. 
When angry, it snapped its bill repeatedly with violence, and so loud 
as to be heard in the adjoining room, swelling out its eyes to their 
full dimensions, and lowering its head as before described. It swal- 
lowed its food hastily, in large mouthfuls ; and never Avas obser\'ed to 
drink. Of the eggs and nest of this species, I am unable to speak. 

The Mottled Owl is ten inches long, and twenty-two in extent ; the 
upper part of tlio head, the back, ears, and lesser wing-coverts, are 
dark brown, streaked and variegated with black, pale brown, and ash ; 
wings, light(>r, the greater coverts and primaries spotted with white ; 
tail, short, even, and mottled with black, pale brown, and whitish, on a 
dark brown ground ; its lower side, gray ; horns, (as they are usually 
called,) very prominent, each composed of ten feathers, increasing in 
length from tii(^ front backwards, and lightest on the inside ; face, 
wliitish, marked Avith small touches of dusky, and bounded on each 
side Avitli a circlet of black ; breast and belly, Avhite, beautifully varie- 



MEADOW LARK. 203 

gated with ragged streaks of black, and small transverse touches of 
brown ; legs, feathered nearly to the claws, with a kind of hairy down, 
of a pale brown color ; vent and under tail-coverts v.'hite, tlie latter 
slightly marked with brown ; iris of tlie eye, a brilliant golden yellow ; 
bill and claws, bluish horn color. 

This was a female. The male is considerably less in size ; the 
general colors darker ; and the white on the wing-coverts not so 
observable. 

Hollow trees, either in the woods or orchard, or close evergreens in 
retired situations, are the usual roosting-places of this and most of our 
other species. These retreats, however, are frequently discovered by 
the Nuthatch, Titmouse, or Blue Jay, who instantly raise the alann ; a 
promiscuous group of feathered neighbors soon collect round the spot, 
like crowds in the streets of a large city, when a thief or murderer is 
detected ; and, by their insults and vociferation, oblige the recluse to 
seek for another lodging elsewhere. This may account for the cir- 
cmnstance of sometimes finding them abroad during the day, on fences 
and other exposed situations. 



MEADOW LARK.— ALAUDA MAGNA. — Fig. 90. 

Linn. Sijsf. 289 — Crescent Stare, Arct. Zool. 330, No. 192, Lath. iii. 6, var. A.— 
Le fer-a-cheval, ou Merle a Collier irAmerique, Buff. iii. p. 371. — Catesb. Car. 
i. pi. 33. — Bartram, p. 290. — Peak's Museum, No. 5212. 

STURJVELLjI ZJ7X)Or/C/./3JV'./3. — Swainson.* 

Sturnus Ludovicianus, (sub-genus Sturnella,) Bonap. Bynop. p. 49. — Stuniella 
collaris, Vieill. Gal. des Ois. pi. 80. — Sturnella Ludoviciaiia, A^o/-«/i. Zoo/, ii. 



Though this well-known species cannot boast of the powers of 
song which distinguish tliat "harbinger of day," the Sky Lark of 
Europe, yet in richness of plumage, as well as in sweetness of voice, 

* In cliang-ing the specific name of this species, C. L. Bonaparte thinks that Wil- 
son must liave been misled by some European author, as he was actjuainted with 
the works wherein it was previously described. It oun'ht to remain under the 
appellation bestowed on it by Linnaeus, Brisson, «fcc. With regard to the generic 
term, this curious form has been chosen by Vieillot, as the type of his genus Stiir- 
itella, containing yet only two species, — that of Wilson, and another from the 
southern continent. The form is peculiar to the New World, and seems to have 
been a subject of uncertainty to most ornithologists, as we find it placed in the 
genera Turdns, Sturnus, Alanda, and Cassicus, to all of which it is somewhat 
allied, but to none can it rank as a congener. In the bill, heail, and wings, with 
some modification, we have the forms of the two first antl last; in the colors of the 
plumage, the elongation of the scapularies and tail-coverts, in the legs, feet, and 
hinder claw, that of the AlaudcK. The tarsi and feet are decidedly ambulatorial, 
as is confirmed by the habits of the species, though the tail indicates that of a 
scansorial bird ; but as far as we yet know, it is the only indication of this power. 
In the structure of the nest, we have the weaving of the IcteH, the situation of many 
of the Warblers, and the form of the true Wrens. — Ed. 



204 JNIEADOW LARK. 

(as far as his few notes extend,) he stands eminently its superior. He 
differs from the -greater part of his tribe in wanting- the long straight 
hind claw, which is probably the reason why he has been classed, by 
some late naturalists, with the Starlings. But in tlie particular form 
of his bill, in his manners, plumage, mode and place of building his 
nest, Nature has clearly pointed out his proper family. 

This species has a ver}^ extensive range, liaving myself found them 
in Upper Canada, and in each of the states, from New Hampshire to 
New Orleans. Mr. Bartram also informs me, that they are equally 
abundant in East Florida. Their favorite places of retreat are pasture 
fields and meadows, particularly the latter, Avhich have conferred on 
them their specific name ; and no doubt supplies them abundantly 
with the particular seeds and insects on which tliey feed. They are 
rarely or never seen in the depth of the vroods ; unless where, instead 
of underwood, tlie ground is covered with rich grass, as in the Chac- 
taw and Chickasaw countries, where I met with them in considerable 
numbers in tlie months of May and June. The extensive and luxu- 
riant prairies between Vincennes and St Louis also abound with 
them. 

It is probable tliat, in the more rigorous regions of the north, they 
may be birds of passage, as they are partially so here ; tliough I have 
seen them among the meadows of New Jersey, and those that border 
the Rivers Delaware and Schuylkill, in all seasons ; even when the 
ground was deeply covered v/ith snow. There is scarcely a market 
day in Philadelphia, from September to March, but they may be found 
exposed to sale. They are generally considered, for size and delicacy, 
little inferior to the Quail, or wliat is here usually called the Partridge, 
and valued accordingly. I once met with a few of these birds in the 
month of February, during a deep snow, among the lieiglits of the 
Alleghany, between Shippensburgh and Somerset, gleaning on tlie 
road, in company with the small Snow Birds. In the state of South 
Carolina and Georgia, at the same season of the year, they sv\-ann 
among tlie rice plantations, running about the yards and out-houses, 
accompanied by the Killdeers, with little appearance of fear, as if quite 
domesticated. 

These birds, after the building season is over, collect in flocks, but 
seldom fly in a close, compact body ; their flight is sometliing in tlie 
manner of the Grouse and Partridge, laborious and steady, sailing, 
and renewing the rapid action of the wings alternately. When they 
alight on trees or bushes, it is generally on the tops of the highest 
branches, whence they send forth a long, clear, and somewliat melan- 
choly note, that, in sweetness and tenderness of expression, is not 
surpassed by any of our numerous Warblers. This is sometimes fol- 
lowed by a kind of low, rapid chattering, the particular call of the 
female ; and again the clear and plaintive strain is repeated as before. 
They afford tolerably good amusement to the sportsman, being most 
easily sliot while on wing ; as they frequently squat among the long 
grass, and spring witliin gunshot The nest of tiiis species is built 
generally in, or below, a thick tuft, or tussock, of grass ; it is com- 
posed of dry grass, and fine bent, liid at the bottom, and womid all 
around, leaving an arched entrance level with tlic ground : the inside 
is lined witli fine stalks of the same materials, disposed with great 



BLACK AND WHITE CREEPER. 205 

regularity. The eggs are four, sometimes five, white, marked with 
specks, and several large blotches of reddish brown, chiefly at tlie thick 
end. Their food consists of caterpillars, grub worms, beetles, and 
grass seeds, with a considerable proportion of gravel. Their general 
name is the Meadow Lark ; among the Virginians, they are usually 
called the Old Field Lark. 

The length of this bird is ten inches and a half; extent, sixteen 
and a half; throat, breast, belly, and line from the eye to the nostrils, 
rich yellow ; inside lining and edge of the wing, the same ; an oblong 
crescent of deep velvety black ornaments the lower part of the throat ; 
lesser wing-coverts, black, broadly bordered Avith pale ash ; rest of the 
wing-feathers, light brown, handsomely serrated with black ; a line of 
yellowish white divides tlie crown, bounded on each side by a stripe 
of black, intermixed with bay, and another line of yellowish white 
passes over each eye, backwards ; cheeks, bluish white ; back, and 
rest of the upper parts, beautifully variegated with black, bright bay, 
and pale ochre ; tail, wedged, the feathers neatly pointed, the four 
outer ones on each side, nearly all white ; sides, thighs, and vent, pale 
yellow ochre, streaked with black ; upper mandible, brown ; lower, 
bluish white ; eyelids, furnished with strong, black hairs ; legs and 
feet, very large, and of a pale flesh color. 

The female has the black crescent more skirted Avith gray, and not 
of so deep a black. In the rest of her markings, the plumage differs 
little from that of the male. I must here take notice of a mistake 
committed by Mr. Edwards in his History of Birds, vol. vi. p. 123, 
where, on the authority of a bird-dealer of London, he describes the 
Calandre Lark, (a native of Italy and Russia,) as belonging also to 
North America, and having been brought from Carolina. I can say 
with confidence, that, in all my excursions through that and the rest of 
tlie Sout'iern States, I never met such a bird, nor any person who had 
ever seen it. I have no hesitation in believing, that the Calandre is 
not a native of the United States. 



BLACK AND WHITE CREEPER. —CERTHIA MACULATA. 
— Fig. OL 

Ecliv. pi. .300.— White Poll Warbler, Arct. ZooL 402, No. 293. — Le figtuer 
varie. B71J'. v. 305.— Lath. ii. i^QQ.— Turton, i. p. 603. — Peak's Museum, 
No. 7092. 

SYLVICOLA VjiRM.— 3 AiwiNE.* 

Sylvia raria, Bonap. Sijiiop. p. 81. — Le Mniotilla varie, Mniotilla varia, VieiU. 
Gall, des Ois. pi. 1G9. 

This nimble and expert little species seldom perches on the small 
twigs ; but circumambulates the trunk and larger branches, in quest of 

* This forms the type of Vieillot's Mniotilla, and will, perhaps, sliow Llio scauso- 
rial form hi Sylvicola. — Ed. 
18 



206 PINE-CREEPING WARBLER. 

ants and other msects, with admirable dexterity. It arrives in Penn- 
sylvania, from the south, about the 20th of April ; the young beg-in to 
fly early in July ; and the whole tribe abandon the country about the 
beginning- of October. Sloane describes this bird as an inhabitant of 
the West India Islands, where it probably winters. It was first figured 
by Edwards from a dried skin sent him by Mr. AVilliam Bartram, who 
gave it its present name. Succeeding naturalists have classed it v.-ith 
the Warblers, — a mistake which I have endeavored to rectify. 

The genus of Creepers comprehends about thirty different species, 
many of Avhich are richly adorned with gorgeous plumage ; but, like 
their congenial tribe, the Woodpeckers, few of them excel in song ; 
their tongues seem better calculated for extracting noxious insects 
from the bark of trees, than for trilling out sprightly airs ; as the 
hardened hands of the husbandman are better suited for clearing the 
forest, or guiding the plough, than dancing among the keys of a forte- 
piano. Which of the two is the more honorable and useful employ- 
ment, is not diHicult to determine. Let the farmer, therefore, respect 
this little bird for its useful qualities in clearing his fruit and forest- 
trees from destructive insects, though it cannot serenade him with its 
song. 

The length of this species is five inches and a half; extent, seven 
and a half; crown, white, bordered on each side with a band of black, 
vt^hich is again bounded by a line of white passing over each eye ; 
below this is a large spot of black covering the ear-feathers ; chin and 
throat, black ; wings, the same, crossed transversely by two bars of 
white ; breast and back, streaked with black and white ; tail, upper, 
and also under coverts, black, edged, and bordered with white ; belly, 
Avhite ; legs and feet, dirty yellow ; hind claw the longest, and all very 
sharp pointed ; bill, a little compressed sidewise, slightly curved, black 
above, paler below ; tongue, long, fine-pointed, and horny at the 
extremity. These last circumstances, joined to its manners, charac- 
terize it, decisively, as a Creeper. 

The female, and young birds of the first year, want the black on 
the throat, having that part of a grayish white. 



PINE-CREEPING WARBLER. — SYLVIA PINUS. — Fig. 92. 

Pine Creeper, Catesb. i. Gl. — Peale's Museum, No. 7312. 

SYL VICOLA PIJVUS. — Jakd i n e . 

Sylvia pinus, Boiiap. Sij7iop. p. 81. 

Tins species inhabits tlic pine woods of the Southern States, where 
it is resident, and where I first observed it, running along the bark of 
tiie pines ; sometimes alighting, and feeding on the ground, and almost 
always, wlicn disturbed, fiying up, and clinging to the trunks of the 
trees. As 1 advanced towards tlie south, it became more numerous. 



LOUISIANA TANAGER. 207 

Its note IS a simple, reiterated clierup, continued for four or five 
seconds. 

Catesby first figured and described this bird ; but so imperfectly, as 
to produce among succeeding writers great confusion, and many 
mistakes as to what particular bird Avas intended. Edwards has sup- 
posed it to be the Blue-Avinged Yellow Warbler! Latham lias sup- 
posed another species to be meant ; and the wortliy Mr. Pennant has 
been led into the same mistakes ; describing the male of one species, 
and the female of another, as the male and female Pine Creeper. 
Having shot and examined great numbers of these birds, I am enabled 
to clear up these difficulties by the following descriptions, which will 
be found to be correct : 

The Pine-creeping Warbler is five and a half inches long, and nine 
inches in extent; the whole upper parts are of a ricli green olive, with 
a considerable tinge of yellow ; throat, sides, and breast, yellow ; 
wings and tail, brown, with a slight cast of bluish, the former marked 
with two bars of white, slightly tinged with yellow ; tail, forked, and 
edged with ash ; the three exterior feathers, marked near tlie tip with 
a broad spot of white ; middle of the belly and vent-feathers, white. 
The female is brown, tinged with olive green on the back ; breast, 
dirty white, or slightly yellowish. The bill in both is truly that of a 
Warbler ; and the tongue, slender, as in the Motacilla genus, notwith- 
standing the habits of the bird. 

The food of these birds is the seeds of the pitch pine, and various 
kinds of bugs. The nest, according to Mr. Abbot, is suspended from 
iJie horizontal fork of a branch, and formed outwardly of slips of grape- 
vine bark, rotten wood, and caterpillp.rs' webs, with sometimes pieces 
of hornets' nests interwoven ; and is lined with dry pine leaves, and 
fine roots of plants. The eggs are four, white, with a few dark brown 
spots at the great end. 

These birds, associating in flocks of twenty or thirty individuals, 
are found in the depth of the pine barrens ; and are easily known by 
their manner of rising from the ground, and alighting on the body of 
the tree. They also often glean among the topmost boughs of the 
pine-tree, hanging, head doAvnwards, like the Titmouse. 



LOUISIANA TANAGER. — TANAGRA COLUMBIANUS. — FrG.93. 

Peak's Musenin, No. 6236 

PYRAJ^OAl LUDOFICMJV^. — JAKDitiE.* 

Tanagra Ludoviciana, Bonap. Srjnop. p. 105. — Pyranga erylhropis, Vieill. auct. 

Bonap, 

This bird, and the two others that occupy the same plate, were 
discovered in the remote regions of Louisiana, by an exploring party 

* It is impossible to decide the g-enerie station of this Mrd. It appears very rare 5 
cUid it is probaljle that the Britisii collections do not possess any specimen. — Ed. 



203 LOUISIANA TANAGER. 

under the command of Captain George Merriwether Lewis, and Lieu- 
tenant, now General, William Clark, in their memorable expedition 
across the Continent to the Pacilic Ocean. Tliey are entitled to a 
disting-uished place in the pages of A^ierican Ornithology, both as 
being, till now, altogether unknown to naturalists, and as natives of 
what is, or at least will be, and that at no distant period, part of the 
western territory of the United States. 

The frail remains of the bird now under consideration, as well as of 
the other two, have been set up by Mr. Peale, in his museum, with as 
much neatness as the state of the skins would permit. Of three of 
these, which were put into my hands for examination, the most perfect 
was selected for the drawing. Its size and markings were as fol- 
lows : — Length, six inches and a half; back, tail, and wings, black ; 
the greater wing-coverts, tipped with yelloAv; the next superior row, 
wliolly yellow ; neck, rump, tail-coverts, and whole lower parts, 
greenish yellow ; forepart of the head, to and beyond the eyes, light 
scarlet; bill, yellowish horn color; edges of the upper mandible, 
ragged, as in the rest of its tribe ; legs, light blue ; tail, slightly forked, 
and edged with dull whitish : the whole figure about the size, and 
much resembling in shape, the Scarlet Tanager, (Figs. 45 and 46;) 
but evidently a different species, from the black back and yellow 
coverts. Some of the feathers on the upper part of the back were also 
skirted with yellow. A skin of what T supposed to be the female, or a 
young bird, differed in having the wings and back brownish, and in 
being rather less. 

The family, or genus, to which this bird belongs, is particularly 
subject to changes of color, both progressively, during the first and 
second seasons, and also periodically, afterwards. Some of those that 
mhabit Pennsylvania, change from an olive green to a greenish 
yellow, and, lastly, to a brilliant scarlet ; and, I confess, wiien the 
preserved specimen of the present species Avas first shown me, I sus- 
pected it to have been passing through a similar change at the time it 
was taken. But, having examined two more skins of the same species, 
and finding them all marked very nearly alike, Avhich is seldom the 
case with those birds that change while moulting, I began to tliink 
that this might be its most permanent, or, at least, its summer or 
winter dress. 

The little information I have been able to procure of the species 
generally, or at what particular season these were shot, prevents me 
from being able to determine this matter to my wish. 

I can only learn that they inhabit the extensive plains or prairies of 
tlie Missouri, between the Osage and Mandan nations, building their 
nests in low bushes, and oflen among the grass. Witli us, the Tana- 
gers usually build on the branches of' a hickory, or white-oak sapling. 
These birds deliglit in various kinds of berries, with which those rich 
prairies are said to abound. 



CLARK'S CROW. 209 

CLARK'S CROW. — CORVUS COLUMBIANUS.— Fig. 94. 

Peak's Museum, No. 1371. 

CORVUS COLUMBlJlJ\rUS. — WiLsoT^. 

Corvus Columbianus, Bonap. Synop. p. 56. 

This species resembles, a little, the Jackdaw of Europe, [Corvus 
vwnedula,) but is remarkable for its fonnidable claws, which approach 
to those of the Falco genus, and would seem to intimate that its food 
consists of living animals, for whose destruction these weapons must 
be necessary. In conversation with different individuals of the party, 
I understood that this bird inliabits the shores of the Columbia, and 
the adjacent country, in great numbers, frequenting the rivers and sea- 
shore, probably feeding on fish ; and that it has all the gregarious and 
noisy habits of the European species, several of the party supposing it 
to be the same. Fig. 94 was drawn with particular care, after a mi- 
nute examination and measurement of the only preserved skin that 
was saved, and which is now deposited in Mr. Peale's museum. 

This bird measures thirteen inches in length ; the wings, the two 
middle tail-feathers, and the interior vanes of the next, (except at the 
tip,) are black, glossed with steel-blue ; all the secondaries, except the 
three next the body, are white for an inch at their extremities, forming 
a large spot of white on that part when the wing is shut ; the tail is 
rounded, yet the two middle feathers are someAvhat shorter than those 
adjoining ; all the rest are pure white, except as already described ; 
the general color of the head, neck, and body, above and below, is a 
light, silky drab, darkening almost to a dove color on the breast and 
belly; vent, white ; claws, black, large, and hooked, particularly the 
middle and hind claw ; legs, also black ; bill, a dark horn color ; iris 
of the eye, unknown. 

In the state of Georgia, and several parts of West Florida, L discov^ 
ered a Crow, not hitherto taken notice of by naturalists, rather larger 
than the present species, but much resembling it in the form and 
length of its wings, in its tail, and particularly its claws. This bird 
is a constant attendant along the borders of streams and stagnating 
ponds, feeding on small fish and lizards, which I have many times seen 
him seize as he swept along the surface. A well-preserved specimen 
of tills bird was presented to Mr. Peale, and is now in his museum. 
It is highly probable that, with these external resemblanceSy the habits 
of both may be nearly alike. 
18* 



210 LEWIS'S WOODPECKER. 

LEWIS'S WOODPECKER. — PICUS TORQUATUS.— Fig. 95. 

Peak's Museum, No, 2020. 

MELAXERPESl TORQUATUS. — 3 xrdise.* 

Picas torquatus, Bonap. Synop. p. 46. 

Of this very beautiful and singularly-marked species, I am unable 
to give any further account than as relates to its external appearance. 
Several skins of this species were preserved, all of which 1 examined 
with care, and found little or no difference among them, either in the 
tints or dispositipn of the colors. 

The length of this was eleven inches and a half; the back, wings, 
and tail were black, with a strong gloss of green ; upper part of the 
head, the same ; front, chin, and cheeks beyond the eyes, a dark, rich 
red ; round the neck passes a broad collar of white, which spreads 
over tlie breast, and looks as if the fibres of the feathers had been sil- 
vered: these feathers are also of a particular structure, the fibres being 
separate, and of a hair-like texture ; belly, deep vermilion, and of the 
same strong, hair-like feathers, intermixed witli silvery ones ; vent, 
black ; legs and feet, dusky, inclining to greenish blue ; bill, dark 
horn color. 

For a more particular, and doubtless a more correct account of this 
and the two preceding species, the reader is referred to General 
Clark's History of the Expedition. The three birds I have here intro- 
duced are but a small part of the valuable collection of new subjects 
in natural history discovered and preserved, amidst a thousand dangers 
and difficulties, by those two enterprising travellers, Avhose intrepidity 
was only equalled by their discretion, and by their active and laborious 
pursuit of whatever might tend to render their journey useful to sci- 
ence and to their country. It was the request and particular wish of 
Captain Lewis, made to me m person, that I should make drawings of 
such of the feathered tribes as had been preserved, and were new. 
That brave soldier, that amiable and excellent man, over whose soli- 
tary grave in the wilderness I have since shed tears of affliction, hav- 
ing been cut off in the prime of his life, I hope I shall be pardoned for 
consecrating this humble note to his memory, until a more able pen 
shall do better justice to the subject. 

* Having no authority from the founder of the genus, and not having seen the 
bird, I place it with tlie Red-headed Woodpecker provisionally. The length- 
ened wings, proportion of toes, and distribution of the colors, seem, however, to 
warrant it. 

The female is said by Bonaparte, on the authority of Mr. Peale, who shot them 
breeding on the Rocky Mountains, to resemble the 'male closely, — Ed, 



CANADA JAY. 211 



CANADA JAY.— CORVUS CANADENSIS. — Fig. 9C. 

Linn. Sijst. 158. — Cinereous Crow, Arct. Zool. p. 248, No. 137, — Lath. i. 389. — 
Le Gcay brun de Canada, Briss. ii.34. — BuJ. iii.117. 

G.IRRULUS Cj}J\r.iDEJ\rSIS. — SwAiNsoN. 

Corvus Canadensis. Bonap. Sijnop. p. 58. — Garrulus Canadensis; North. Znn! v.. 

p. 295. 

Were I to adopt the theoretical reasoning of a celebrated Frciicli 
naturalist, I might pronounce this bird to be a debased descendant 
from the Common Blue Jay of the United States, degenerated by tlie 
influence of the bleak and chilling regions of Canada, or perhaps a 
spurious production between the Blue Jay and the Cat Bird ; or, what 
would be more congenial to the count's ideas, trace its degradation to 
the circumstance of migrating, some thousand years ago, from the 
genial shores of Europe, — where nothing like degeneracy or doLTa- 
dition ever takes place among any of God's creatures. I shall, luw- 
ever, on the present occasion, content myself with stating a few partic- 
ulars better supported by facts, and more consonant to the plain 
homespun of common sense. 

This species inhabits the country extending from Hudson's Bay, 
and probably farther north, to the River St. LaAvrence ; also, in win- 
ter, the inland parts of the District of Maine and northern tracts of the 
States of Vermont and New York. When the season is very severe, 
with deep snow, they sometimes advance farther south, but generally 
return northward as the weather becomes more mild. 

The character given of this bird by the people of those parts of the 
country where it inhabits, is, that it feeds on black moss, worms, and 
even flesh ; when near habitations or tents, pilfers every thing it can 
come at ; is bold, and comes even into the tent to eat meat out of the 
dishes ; watches the hunters while baiting their traps for martens, and 
devours the bait as soon as their backs are turned; that they breed 
early in spring, building their nests on pine-trees, forming them of 
sticks and grass, and lay blue eggs ; that they have two, rarely three, 
young at a time, which are at first quite black, and continue so for 
some time ; that they fly in pairs ; lay up hoards of berries in hollow 
trees ; are seldom seen in January, unless near houses ; are a kind of 
Mock Bird ; and, when caught, pine away, though their appetite never 
fails them ; notwithstanding all which ingenuity and good qualities, 
they are, as we are informed, detested by the natives.* 

The only individuals of this species that I ever met with in the 
United States were on the shores of the Mohawk, a short way above 
the Little Falls. It was about the last of November, when tlie ground 
was deeply covered witli snow. There were three or four in company, 
or within a small distance of each other, flitting leisurely along the 
road- side, keeping up a kind of low chattering with one another^ and 

* Hearne's Journexjj p. 405. 



212 SNOW BUNTING. 

seemed nowise apprehensive at my approach. I soon secured the 
whole ; from the best of which the drawing in the plate was carefully 
made. On dissection, I found their stomachs occupied by a few spi- 
ders and the aureliae of some insects. I could perceive no difiference 
between the plumage of the male and female. 

The Canada Jay is eleven inches long, and fifteen in extent ; back, 
wings, and tail, a dull, leaden gray, the latter long, cuneiform, and 
tipped with dirty white ; interior vanes of the wings, brown, and also 
partly tipped with white ; plumage of the head, loose and prominent ; 
the forehead, and featliers covering the nostril, as well as the whole 
lower parts, a dirty brownish white, which also passes round the bot- 
tom of the neck like a collar ; part of the crown and hind head, black ; 
bill and legs, also black ; eye, dark hazel. The whole plumage on 
the back is long, loose, unwebbed, and in great abundance, as if to 
protect it from the rigors of the regions it inhabits. 

A gentleman of observation, who resided for many years near the 
North River, not far from Hudson, in the state of New York, informs 
me that he has particularly observ^ed this bird to arrive there at the 
commencement of cold weather. He has often remarked its solitary 
habits. It seemed to seek the most unfrequented, shaded retreats, 
keeping almost constantly on the ground, yet would sometimes, tow- 
ards evening, mount to the top of a small tree, and repeat its notes 
(which a little resemble those of the Baltimore) for a quarter of an 
hour together ; and tliis it generally did immediately before snow or 
fallinof weatlier. 



SNOW BUNTING. — EMBERIZA NIVALIS. —Fig. 97. 

Linn. Syst. 30S. — Arct. Zool. p. 355, No. 222. — Tawiiv Bunting, Br. Zool. No. 
121. — L'Ortolande Neige, Buff. iv. 329. PL e7tI.'491. — Peale's Museum, 
No. 5900. 

PLECTROPHjU^ES JVIFJlLIS. — mETER.* 

Emheriza nivalis, Flejn. Br. Anim. p. 79. — Snow Bunting, Mont. Om. Diet. i. 
Bew. Br. Birds, l p. HS.— Selb. III. Om. i. 247. pi. 52. — Tawny Bunting, 
Mont. Om. Diet. Bev\ Br. Birds, i. 150. — Bruent de neize, Temm. Man. 
d'Om. i. p. 319. — Emberiza nivalis, Bonap. Syjiop. p. 103. — Emberiza (plec- 
trophanes) nivalis, North. Zool. ii. p. 246. 

This being one of those birds common to both continents, its mi- 
grations extending almost from the very pole to a distance of forty or 
fifty degrees around ; and its manners and peculiarities having been 

* This species, from its various changes of plumage, has been multiplied into 
several •, and in fonn beinj:^ allied to nianv genera, it has been variouslv placed by 
different ornithologists. Meyer was the first to institute a place for itself, and, with 
a second, the Frinscilia Lapponiea, it will constitute his genus Plectroplumes, which 
is generally adopted into our modern systems. The discrepancies of form were 
also seen by Vieillot, who, without attending to his predecessor, made tlie genus 
Passerina of the I^pland Finch. They are both natives of America ; tlie latter 
heuJ been added by th« Prince of Muaignano, and figured in Vol. IJL It b4is 



SNOW BUNTING. 213 

long familiarly known to the naturalists of Europe, I shall in this place 
avail myself of the most interestino; parts of their accounts, subjoin- 
ing such particulars as have fallen under my own observation. 

" These birds," says Mr. Pennant, " inhabit not only Greenland,* 
but even the dreadful climate of Spitzbergen, where vegetation is 
nearly extinct, and scarcely any but ayptogamotis plants are found. 
It tlierefore excites wonder, how birds, which are graminivorous m 
every other than those frost-bound regions, subsist; yet are there found 
in great flocks, both on the land and ice of Spitzbergen.f They an- 
nually pass to this country by way of Norway ; for, in the spring, 
flocks innumerable appear, especially on the Norwegian isles, continue 
only three weeks, and then at once disappear.^ As they do not breed 
in Hudson's Bay, it is certain that many retreat to this last of lands, 
and totally uninhabited, to perform, in full security, the duties of love, 
incubation, and nutrition. That they breed in Spitzbergen, is very 
probable; but we are assured that they do so in Greenland. They 
arrive there in April, and make their nests in the fissures of the rocks 
on the mountains, in May ; the outside of their nest is grass, the middle 
of feathers, and the lining the down of the arctic fox. They lay five 
eggs, white, spotted with brown: they sing finely near their nest. 

also been lately discovered to be an occasional visitant in this country, being taken 
by the bird-catchers about London. The following- very proper observations occur 
in Mr. Selby's account of the Lapland Finch : — 

" The appropriate station for this genus, I conceive to be intermediate between 
Alanda aiict Emberiza, forming, as it were, the medium of connection or passage 
from one genus to the other. In Alamla, it is met with that section of the genus 
which, in the increasing thickness and form of the bill, shows a deviation from the 
more typical species, and a nearer approach to the thick-billed Fringillidce ; to this 
section Alanda calandra and brachydactyla belong. Its affinity to the Larks is also 
shown, by the form of the feet, and production ofthe hinder claw ; this, in Lappo- 
m'ca, is nearly straight, and longer than the toe, resembling, in every respect, that 
of many of the true Larks. Tlie habits and manners of the two known species 
also bear a much greater resemblance to those of the Larks than the Buntings. 
Like the members of the first genus, they live entirely upon the ground, and never 
perch. Their mode of progression is also the same, being by successive steps, and 
not the hopping motion used by all the true EmberizcB. A power of flight, superior 
to that possessed by the true I3untings, is also indicated by the greater length of 
tJie wings and form of the tail-feathers. In Plectrophanes, the first and second 
quills are nearly equal in length, and the longest in the wing; in Emberiza, on the 
contrary, the second and third are equal, and longer than the first. The affinity of 
our genus to Emberiza, is shown in the form of the bill, which, with the exception 
of being shorter and more rounded on the back, possesses the characteristic dis- 
tinctions of that genus.'' 

During the spruig and breeding season, the plumage assumes a pure white on the 
under parts, and deep black on all the brown markings of the upper. The feathers 
are at first edged with brown, which gradually drop off as the summer advances. 
A third species is figured in the Northern Zoology, {Plectrophanes picta, Sw.) 
Onl3' one specimen was obtained, associating with the Lapland Buntings, on the 
banks of the Saskatchewan. The description of the bird in the summer plumage is 
nearly thus given : — " Head and sides, velvet black ; three distinct spots of pure 
white on the sides of the head, one bordering the chin, another on the car, a third 
above the eve, a less distinct spot in the middle of the nape ; the neck above, wood 
brown, the dorsal plumage and lowest rows of wing-coverts, blackish brown ; the 
under plumage, entirely of a color intermediate between wood brown and buff 
orange." — Ed. 

* CRANT7.,i. 77. 

t Lord Mulgrave's Voyage, 188; Martin's Voyage, 73. 
t Leems, 256. 



214 SNOW BUNTLXG 

" They are caught by the boys in autumn, when they collect near 
the shores in great flocks, in order to migrate ; and are eaten dried.* 

" In Europe, they inhabit, during summer, the most naked Lapland 
alps, and descend in rigorous seasons into Sweden, and fill the roads 
and fields ; on which account the Dalecarlians call them illwarsfogel, 
or bad-weather birds — the Uplanders, hardivarsfogd, expressive of 
the same. The Laplanders style them aJaipg. Leemsf remarks, I 
know not with what fioundation, that they fatten on the flowing of the 
tides in Finmark, and grow lean on the ebb. The Laplanders take 
them in gTeat numbers in hair springs, for the tables, then: flesh being 
very delicate. 

'- They seem to make the countries within the whole arctic circle 
their summer residence, from whence they overflow the more southern 
countries in amazing multitudes, at the setting in of winter in the 
frigid zone. In the winter of 1778-9, they came in such multitudes 
into Birsa, one of the Orkney Islands, as to cover the whole barony ; 
yet of all the numbers, hardly two agreed in colors. 

"Lapland, and perhaps Iceland, furnishes the north of Britain with 
the swarms that frequent these parts during winter, as low as the 
Cheviot Hills, in lat. 52° 32'. Their resting-places, the Feroe Isles, 
vSIietland, and the Orkneys. The Highlands of Scotland, in particular, 
abound Avith them. Their flights are immense, and they mingle so 
closely together in form of a ball, that the fowlers make great havock 
among them. They arrive lean, soon become very fat, and are delicious 
food. They either arrive in the Highlands very early, or a few breed 
there, for I had one shot for me at Invercauld, the 4th of August. 
But there is a certainty of their migration ; for multitudes of them 
fall, wearied with their passage, on the vessels that are sailing through 
the Pentland Firth.J 

" In their summer dress, they are sometimes seen in the south of 
England,§ the climate not having severity sufiicient to affect the col- 
ors ; yet now and then a milk-white one appears, which is usually mis- 
taken for a white Lark. 

" Russia and Siberia receive tliem in their severe seasons annually, 
in amazing flocks, overflowing almost all Russia. They frequent tiie 
villages, and yield a most luxurious repast. They vary there infinitely 
in their Avintcr colors, are pure white, speckled, and even quite brown.|| 
This seems to be the influence of difference of age, more than of 
season. Germany has also its share of them. In Austria, they are 
caught and fed with millet, and afford the epicure a treat equal to tliat 
of the OrtolMn."1[ 

These birds appear in the northern districts of the United States 
early in December, or with the first heavy snow, particularly if drifted 
by liigh winds. They are usually called the ichiie Snow Bird, to dis- 
tiuL^uish them from the small dark bluisii Snow Bird already described. 
Their numbers increase with the increasing severity of weather, and 
depth of snow. Flocks of them sometimes reach as far south as the 
borders of Maryland ; and the Avhiteness of their plumage is observed 
to be greatest towards the depth of winter. They sj)read over the 

* F'lnn. Greevl. 118. t finmark. 235. 

: I'.isHOP PorocK's Journal, MS. ^ MoKTox's lSorthamp.\i. All. 

II 13i:ll's Travels, i. 198. K\ Kkamer, Anim. Austr. 372. 



SNOW BUNTING. 215 

Gennesee country, and the interior of the District of Maine, flying in 
close, compact bodies, driving about most in a hijjch wind ; sometimes 
alighting near the doors, but seldom sitting long, being a roving, rest- 
less bird. In these plentiful regions, where more valuable game is 
abundant, they hold out no temptation to the sportsman or hunter; and, 
except the few caught by boys in snares, no other attention is paid to 
them. They are, however, universally considered as the harbingers 
of severe cold weather. How far westward they extend I am unable to 
say. One of the most intelligent and expert hunters who accompanied 
Captains Lewis and Clark on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean, 
informs me that he has no recollection of seeing these birds in any 
part of their tour, not even among the bleak and snowy regions of the 
Stony Mountains ; though the little blue one was in abundance. 

The Snow Bunting derives a considerable part of its food from the 
seeds of certain aquatic plants, which may be one reason for its pre- 
ferring these remote northern countries, so generally intersected with 
streams, ponds, lakes, and shallow arms of the sea, that probably 
abound with such plants. In passing down the Seneca River towards 
Lake Ontario, late in the month of October, I was surprised by the 
appearance of a large flock of these birds feeding on the surface of 
the water, supported on the tops of a growth of weeds that rose from 
the bottom, growing so close together that our boat could with great 
difficulty make its way through them. They were running about with 
great activity ; and those T shot and examined, were filled, not only 
with the seeds of this plant, but with a minute kind of shell fish that 
adheres to the leaves. In these kind of aquatic excursions they are 
doubtless greatly assisted by the length of their hind heel and claws. 
I also observed a few on Table Rock, above the Falls of Niagara, 
seemingly in search of the same kind of food. 

According to the statements of those traders who have resided near 
Hudson's Bay, the Snow Buntings are the earliest of their migratory 
birds, appearing there about the 11th of April, staying about a month 
or five weeks, and proceeding farther north to breed. They return 
again in September, stay till November, when the severe frosts drive 
thern southward.* 

The summer dress of the Snow Bunting is a tawny brown, inter- 
spersed with white, covering the head, neck, and lower parts ; the 
back is black, each feather being skirted with brown ; wings and tail, 
also black, marked in the following manner: — The three secondaries 
next the body are bordered with bay, the next with white, and all the 
rest of the secondaries, as well as their coverts, and shoulder of the 
wing, pure white ; the first six primaries are black from their covert:;^ 
downwards to their extremities ; tail, forked, the three exterior feathers 
on each side white, marked on the outer edge near the tip with black, 
the rest nearly all black ; tail-coverts, reddish brown, fading into white ; 
bill, pale brown ; legs and feet, black ; hind claw, long, like that of the 
lark, though more curved. In winter, they become white on the head, 
neck, and whole under-side, as well as great part of the wings and 
rump ; the back continues black, skirted with brown. Some are even 
found pure white. Indeed, so much does their plumage vary according 
to age and season, that no two are found at any time alike. 

* London Philosophical Transactions, Ixii. 403. 



216 RUSTY GRAKLE. 



RUSTY GRAKLE. — GRACUL A FERRUGINEA. — Fig. 98. 

Black Oriole, Arct. Zool. p. 259, No. 144. — Rusty Oriole, Ibid. p. 260, No. 146.— 
New York Thrush, Ibid. p. 339, No. 205. — Hudsonian Thrush, Ibid. No. 23-1-, 
female. — Labrador Thrush, Ibid. p. 340, No. 206. — Peak's Museum, No. 551-i. 

SCOLEPHJIQUS FERRUGLVEUS. — SwAirfsox. 

Quiscalus ferrugineus, Bonap. Sump- p. 55. — Scolephagus ferrugineus, NortJu 
Zool. ii. p. 286. 

Here is a single species described by one of the most judicious 
naturalists of Great Britain no less than five different times ! — The 
greater part of these descriptions is copied by succeeding naturalists, 
whose synonymes it is unnecessary to repeat: so great is the uncer- 
tainty in judging, from a mere examination of their dried or stuffed 
skins, of the particular tribes of birds, many of which, for several years, 
are constantly varying in the colors of their plumage, and, at different 
seasons, or different ages, assuming new and very different appear- 
ances. Even the size is by no means a safe criterion, the difference 
in tliis respect between the male and female of the same species (as in 
the one now before us) being sometimes very considerable. 

This bird arrives in Pennsylvania, from the north, early in October; 
associates with the Redwings and Cow-Pen Buntings, frequents corn- 
fields and places where grasshoppers are plenty ; but Indian corn, at 
that season, seems to be its principal food. It is a very silent bird, 
havinor only now and then a single note, or chuch We see them occa- 
sionally until about the middle of November, when they move off to 
the south. On the IQth of January, I overtook great numbers of these 
birds in the woods near Petersburgh, Virginia, and continued to see 
occasional parties of them almost every day as I advanced southerly, 
particularly in South Carolina, around the rice plantations, where 
they were numerous, feeding about the hog pens, and wherever 
Indian corn was to be procured. They also extend to a considerable 
distance westward. On the 5th of March, being on the banks of the 
Ohio, a few miles below the mouth of the Kentucky River, in the 
midst of a heavy snow storm, a flock of these birds alighted near the 
door of the cabin where I had taken shelter, several of which I shot, 
and found their stomachs, as usual, crammed with Indian corn. Early 
in April they pass hastily through Pennsylvania, on their return to the 
nortli to breed. 

From the accounts of persons who have resided near Hudson's Bay, 
it appears that tliese birds arrive there in the beginning of June, as 
soon as the ground is thawed sufficiently for tliem to procure their 
food, which is said to be worms and maggots ; sing with a fine note 
till the time of incubation, when they have only a chucking noise, till 
tlie young take their fliglit ; at which time tliey resume tlieir song. 
They build their nests in trees, about eight feet from the grrund, form- 
ing them with moss and grass, and lay five eggs of a dark color, spot- 
ted with black. It is added, they gather in great flocks, and retire 
soutlierly in September.* 

* Arctic Zoolo^j, p. 259. 



PURPLE GRAKLE. 217 

The male of this species, when in perfect plumage, is nine inches 
in length, and fourteen in extent; at a small distance appears wholly 
black; but, on a near examination, is of a glossy dark green; the 
irides of the eye are silvery, as in those of the Purple Grakle ; the bill 
is black, nearly of tlie same form witli that of the last-mentioned spe- 
cies; the lower mandible a little rounded, with the edges turned 
inward, and the upper one furnished with a sharp, bony process on the 
inside, exactly like that of the purple species. The tongue is slender, 
and lacerated at the tip ; legs and feet, black and strong, the hind claw 
the largest; the tail is slightly rounded. This is the coior of the 
male when of full age ; but three fourths of these birds which we 
meet with, have the whole plumage of the breast, head, neck, and 
back, tinctured witli broAvn, every featlier being skirted witli fen-ugi- 
nous ; over the eye is a light line of pale brown, below that one of 
black passing through the eye. This brownness gradually goes off 
towards spring, for almost all those I shot in the Southern States were 
but slightly marked with ferruginous. The female is nearly an inch 
shorter ; head, neck, and breast, almost wholly brown ; a light line 
over the eye ; lores, black ; belly and rump, ash ; upper and under tail- 
coverts, skirted with brown ; wings, black, edged with rust color ; tail, 
black, glossed with green; legs, feet, and bill, as in the male. 

These birds might easily be domesticated. Several that I had 
winged and kept for some time, became, in a few days, quite familiar, 
seeming to be very easily reconciled to confinement 



PURPLE GRAKLE. — GRACULA QUISCALA. — Fig. 99. 

Linn. Syst. 165. — La pie de la iammque, Briss. ii. 4L — Buff. iii. 91, PL enl.. 
538. Arct. Zoo/, p. 263, No. 153. — Gracula purpurea, the Lesser Purple Jack- 
daw, or Crow Blackbird, Bartram, p. 289. — Feale's Museum, No. 1582. 

Q,UISCALUS VERSICOLOR. — YiEiLLor.* 

Quiscalus versicolor, Vieill. Gall, des Ois. pi. 108. — Bonap. Synop. p. 54-. — Purple 
Grakle, or Common Crow Blackbird, Aud. pi. 7 ; Orn. Biog. i. p. 35. — Quis- 
calus versicolor, Common Purple Boat-Tail, North. Zool. ii. p. 285. 

This noted depredator is well known to every careful farmer of the 
Northern and Middle States. About the 20th of March, the Purple 
Grakles visit Pennsylvania from the south, fly in loose flocks, frequent 
swamps and meadows, and follow in the furrows after the plough ; 
their food at this season consisting of worms, grubs, and caterpillars, 

* Gracida will be given exclusively to a form inhabiting India, of which, though 
one species only is described, I have every reason to believe that at least two are 
confounded under it. Quiscalus has been, on this account, taken, by Vieillot, for 
our present bird, and some others confined to America. There has been consider- 
able confusion among the species, which has been satisfactorily cleared up by 
Bonaparte, and will be seen in the sequel of the work. The female is figured Plate 
V. of the Continuation by tiie Prince of Musignano. — Ed. 
19 



218 PURPLE GRAKLE. 

of which they destroy prodigious numbers, as if to recompense the 
husbandman beforehand for the havock they intend to make among 
his crops of Indian corn. Towards evening, they retire to the near- 
est cedars and pine-trees to roost, making a continual chattering as 
tliey fly along. On the tallest of these trees they generally build their 
nests in company, about the beginning or middle of April; sometimes 
ten or fifteen nests being on the same tree. One of these nests, taken 
from a high pme-tree, is now before me. It measures full five inches 
in diameter within, and four in depth ; is composed outwardly of mud, 
mixed with long stalks and roots of a knotty kind of grass, and lined 
with fine bent and horse hair. The eggs are five, of a bluish olive 
color, marked with large spots and straggling streaks of black and 
dark brown, also with others of a fainter tinge. They rarely produce 
more than one brood in a season.* 

The trees where these birds build are often at no great distance 
from the farm-house, and overlook the plantations. From thence they 
issue, in all directions, and with as much confidence, to make their 
daily depredations among the surrounding fields, as if the whole were 
intended for their use alone. Their chief attention, however, is di- 
rected to the Indian corn in all its progressive stages. As soon as the 
infant blade of this grain begins to make its appearance above ground, 
the Grakles hail the welcome signal with screams of peculiar satisfac- 
tion, and, without waiting for a formal invitation from the proprietor, 
descend on the fields, and begin to pull up and regale themselves on 
the seed, scattering the green blades around. While thus eagerly 
employed, the vengeance of the gun sometimes overtakes them ; but 
these disasters are soon forgotten, and those 

who live to get away, 

Return to steal, another day. 

About the beginmng of August, when the young ears are in their 
milky state, they are attacked with redoubled eagerness by the Grakles 
and Redwings, in formidable and combined bodies. They descend 

* Audubon's account of their manner of buildin^- is at considerable variance 
with that given above by our author. " The lofty dead trees left standing in our 
newlv-cultivated fields, have many holes and cavities, some of which have been 
borecl by Woodpeckers, and others caused by insects or decay. These are visited 
and examined in succession, until, a choice being made, and a few dry weeds and 
feathers collected, the female deposits her eggs, which are from four to six in number, 
blotched and streaked with brown and black." Such is the manner of building in 
Louisiana j but, in the Northern States, their nests are differently constructed, and, 
as mentioned by our author, it is a singular circumstance that a comparatively short 
distance should so vary this formation. " In the Northern States, their nests are 
constructed in a more perfect manner. A pine-tree, whenever it occurs in a conve- 
nient place, is selected l)y preference. There the Grakle forms a nest, which, from 
the ground, might easily be mistaken for that of our Robin, were it less bulky. 
Eul it is much larger, and is associated with others, often to the number of a dozen 
or more, on the horizontal branches of the i)iiic, forming tier above tier, from the 
lowest to the highest branches. It is composed of grass, slender roots and mud, 
lined with hair and finer grasses." JVIr. Audubon has also once or twice observed 
them build in the fissures of rocks. " The fiesh is little belter than that of a Crow, 
being dry and ill-flavoretl ; notwithstanding it is often used, with the adchtion of 
one or two Golden-winged \Vo<)d|>erkers, or Redwings, to make what is called 
pot-pie. The eggs, on the contrary, arc very delicate." — Ed. 



PURPLE GRAKLE. 219 

like a blackening, sweeping tempest on the corn, dig off the external 
covering of twelve or fifteen coats of leaves, as dexterously as if done 
by the hand of man, and, having laid bare the ear, leave little behind 
to the farmer but the cobs, and shrivelled skins, that contained their 
favorite fare. I have seen fields of corn of many acres, where more 
than one half was thus ruined. Indeed the farmers, in the immediate 
vicinity of the Rivers Delaware and Schuylkill, generally allow one 
fourth of tliis crop to the Blackbirds, among whom our Grakle comes 
in for his full share. During these depredations, the gun is making 
great havock among their numbers, which has no other effect on the 
survivors than to send them to another field, or to another part of the 
same field. This system of plunder and retaliation continues until 
November, when, towards the middle of that month, they begin to 
sheer off towards the south. The lower parts of Virginia, North and 
South Carohna, and Georgia, are the winter residences of these flocks. 
Here numerous bodies, collecting together from all quarters of the 
interior and northern districts, and darkening the air with their numbers, 
sometimes form one congregated multitude of many hundred thousands. 
A few miles from the banks of the Roanoke, on the 20th of January, 
I met with one of those prodigious armies of Grakles. They rose 
from the surrounding fields with a noise like thunder, and, descending 
on the length of road before me, covered it and the fences completely 
with black ; and when they again rose, and, after a few evolutions, 
descended on the skirts of the high-timbered woods, at that time 
destitute of leaves, they produced a most singular and striking effect ; 
the whole trees for a considerable extent, from the top to tlie lowest 
branches, seemed as if hung in mourning; their notes and screaming 
the meanwhile resembling the distant sound of a great cataract, but in 
more musical cadence, swelling and dying away on the ear, according 
to the fluctuation of the breeze. In Kentucky, and all along the Mis- 
sissippi, from its juncture with the Ohio to the Balize, I fuund numbers 
of these birds, so that the Purple Grakle may be considered as a very 
general inhabitant of the territory of the United States. 

Every industrious farmer complains of the mischief committed on 
his corn by the Crow Blackbirds, as they are usually called; though, 
v/ere the same means used, as with Pigeons, to take them in clap nets, 
multitudes of them might thus be destroyed, and tlie products of them 
in market, in some measure, indemnify him for their depredations. 
But tliey are most numerous and most destructive at a time when the 
various harvests of the husbandman demand all his attention, and all 
liis hands, to cut, cure, and take in ; and so tliey escape with a few 
sweeps made among them by some of the younger boys with the gun, 
and by the gunners from the neighboring towns and villages ; and return 
from their winter quarters, somethnes early in March, to renew the 
like scenes over aorain. As some consolation, however, to the indus- 
trious cultivator, I can assure him, that were T placed in his situation, 
1 should hesitate whether to consider tliese birds most as friends or 
enemies, as they are particularly destructive to almost all the noxious 
Avorms, grubs and caterpillars, that infest his fields, which, were they 
allowed to multiply unmolested, would soon consume nine tenths of 
all the prof] notion of his labor, and desolate the country with the 
nnseries of famine ! Is not this another striking proof tiiat the Deity 



220 SWA3IP SPARROW. 

has created nothing in vain ? and that it is the duty of man, the lord 
of the creation, to avail himself of their usefulness, and guard against 
their bad effects as securely as possible, without indulging in the 
barbarous and even impious wish for their utter extermination ? 

The Purple Grakle is twelve inches long, and eighteen in extent ; 
on a slight view, seems wholly black, but placed near, in a good light, 
the whole head, neck, and breast, appear of a rich glossy steel blue, 
dark violet, and silky green ; the violet prevails most on the head and 
breast, and the green on the hind part of tlie neck. The back, rump, 
and whole lower parts, the breast excepted, reflect a strong coppery 
gloss ; wing-coverts, secondaries, and coverts of the tail, rich light 
violet, in which the red prevails ; the rest of the wings, and rounded 
tail, are black, glossed with steel blue. All the above colors are ex- 
tremely shining, varying as differently exposed to the light ; iris of 
the eye, silvery ; bill, more than an inch long, strong, and furnished 
on the inside of the upper mandible with a sharp process, like the 
stump of the broken blade of a penknife, intended to assist the bird in 
macerating its food ; tongue, thin, bifid at the end, and lacerated along 
the sides. 

The female is rather less, has the upper part of the head, neck, and 
the back, of a dark sooty brown ; chin, breast, and belly, dull pale 
brown, lightest on the former ; wings, tail, lower parts of the back 
and vent, black, with a few reflections of dark green ; legs, feet, bill, 
and eyes, as in the male. 

The Purple Grakle is easily tamed, and sings in confinement They 
have also, in several instances, been taught to articulate some few 
words pretty distinctly. 

A singular attachment frequently takes place betAveen this bird and 
the Fish" Hawk. The nest of this latter is of very large dimensions, 
often from three to four feet in breadth, and from four to five feet 
high ; composed, externally, of large sticks, or fagots, among the in- 
terstices of which sometimes three or four pairs of Crow Blackbirds 
will construct their nests, while tlie HaAvk is sitting or hatching 
above. Here each pursues the duties of incubation and of rearing 
their young ; living in the greatest harmony, and mutually watching 
and protecting each other's property from depredators. 



SWAMP SPARROW. — FRINGILLA PALUSTRIS. — Fig. 100. 

Passer palustris, Bartram, p. 291. — Peales Museum, No. 65G9. 

ZOJ^OTRICHIA PALUSTRIS — J xRDiyi:.* 

Fringilla palustris,, Bonap. Synop. p. 111. — The Swamp Sparrow, Aud. pi. G4, 
male; Orn. Biog. i. p. 331. 

The history of this obscure and humble species is short and unin- 
teresting. UnknoAvn or overlooked by tlie naturalists of Europe, it is 

* The four species figured m Nos. 100, 101, 102, and 103, will poml out the 
form which Mr. Swainson has designale4 as above. Of tliese, the present and 



SWAMP SPARROW. 221 

now, for the first time, introduced to the notice of the world. It is 
one of our summer visitants, arriving in Pennsylvania early in April, 
frequenting low grounds and river courses ; rearing two, and some- 
times three, broods in a season ; and returning to tlie south as the cold 
weather commences. The immense cypress swamps and extensive 
grassy flats of tlie Southern States, that border their numerous rivers, 
and tlie rich rice plantations, abounding with their favorite seeds and 
sustenance, appear to be the general winter resort, and grand annual 
rendezvous, of this and all the other species of Sparrow that remain 
with us during summer. From the River Trent in North Carolina, to 
that of Savannah, and still farther south, I found this species very 
numerous ; not flying in flocks, but skulking among the canes, reeds, 
and grass, seeming shy and timorous, and more attached to the water 
than any other of their tribe. In the month of April, numbers pass 
through Pennsylvania to the northward, which I conjecture from the 
circumstance of finding them at that season in particular parts of the 
woods, where, during tlie rest of the year, they are not to be seen. 
The few that remain frequent the swamps and reedy borders of our 
creeks and rivers. They form their nest in the ground, sometimes in 
a tussock of rank grass, surrounded by water, and lay four eggs, of a 
dirty white, spotted with rufous. So late as the 15th of August, 1 
have seen them feeding their young that were scarcely able to fly. 
Their principal food is grass seeds, wild oats, and insects. They have 
no song ; are distinguished by a single chip or cheep, uttered in a 
rather hoarser tone tlian that of the Song Sparrow ; flirt tlie tail as 
they fly ; seldom or never take to the trees, but skulk from one low 
bush or swampy tliicket to another. 

The Swamp Sparrow is five inches and a half long, and seven 
inches and a half in extent ; the back of the neck and front are black ; 
crown, bright bay, bordered with black ; a spot of yellowish white 
between the eye and nostril; sides of the neck and whole breast, dark 
ash ; chin, white ; a streak of black proceeds from the lower mandi- 
ble, and another from tlie posterior angle of the eye ; back, black, 
slightly skirted with bay ; greater coverts also black, edged with bay ; 
wings and tail, plain brown ; belly and vent, brownish white ; bill, 
dusky above, bluish below ; eyes, hazle ; legs, brown ; claws, strong 
and sharp, for climbing the reeds. The female wants the bay on the 
crown, or has it indistinctly ; over the eye is a line of dull white. 

the last will recede from the type, the one in the more slender, the other in the 
stronger bill, and its even, cutting' margins. They in every respect show a strong 
assimilation with the Bunting, Sparrow, and Lark family, though they cannot 

f)roperly rank with these. According to the characters now laid down, and I be 
ieve properly so, they are a most interesting form when taken in comparison with 
tlieir representatives in other countries. They appear confined to America. —Ed. 

19 * 



222 WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. 



WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. — FRINGILLA ALBICOL- 
LIS. — Fig. 101. 

Fr!ii"-illa fusca, Bartram. ]>. 291. — Lath, il 212. — Edwards, oOi.— Arct. Zool. 
° p. 373, No. 248. — Peak's Museum, No. 6486. 

ZOXOTRICRJA PEj^.YSYLV.ajYICA. — Swainson. 

Fringilla Pennsvlvanica, Lath. Ind. Orn. i. p. 44o. — Bonap. Synop. p. 108.-- 
TKe White-Throated Sparrow, Aud. pi. 8, male and female 3 Orn. Biog. i. 
p. 42. — North. Zool. ii. p. 256. 

This is the largest as well as handsomest of all our Sparrows. It 
winters with the preceding species and several others in most of the 
states south of New England. From Connecticut to Savannah 1 
found these birds numerous, particularly in the neighborhood of the 
Roanoke River, and among the rice plantations. In summer they re- 
tire to the higher inland parts of the country, and also farther north, 
to breed. According to Pennant, they are also found at that season 
in Newfoundland. During their residence here in winter, tliey col- 
lect together in flocks, always prefen'ing the borders of swampy 
tliickets, creeks, and mill-ponds, skirted with alder bushes and long, 
rank Aveeds, the seeds of which form their principal food. Early in 
spring-, a little before they leave us, they have a few remarkably sweet 
and clear notes, genera.lly in the morning a little after sunrise. About 
the 20th of April they disappear, and we see no more of tliem till the 
beo-inning or second week of October, when they again return ; part 
to pass the winter with us, and part on their route farther south. 

The length of the White-throated SparroAv is six incites and a half, 
breadth, nine inches ; the upper part of the back and the lesser wing- 
coverts are beautifully variegated with black, bay, ash, and light 
brown ; a stripe of white passes from the base of the upper mandible 
to the hind head ; this is bordered on each side with a stripe of black; 
below this again is another of white passing over each eye, and deep- 
ening- into oi°ange yellow between that and the nostril ; this is again 
bordered by a stripe of black proceeding from the hind part of 
the eye ; breast, ash ; chin, belly, and vent, white ; tail, somewhat 
wedged ; legs, flesh colored ; bill, a bluish horn color ; eye, liazel. 
In the female, the white stripe on the crown is a light drab ; tlie 
breast not so dark ; the chin less pure ; and the line of yellow before 
the eye scarcely half as long as in tlie male. All the parts tliat are 
white'in the male are in tlie female of a light drab color. 



FOX-COLORED SPARROW. 223 



FOX-COLORED SPARROW. — FRINGILLA RUFA.-Fig. 103. 

Rusty BuntinET, Arct. Zool. p. 3G4, No. 23L Ibid. 233. — Ferruginous Finch, 
IMd. 315, tio. 2oL — Fringilla rufa, Bartram, p. 2dl. — Peak's Museu7n,]^o. 
6092. 

ZOJVOTRTCHM /Z/./f C^. — Swainson. 

Fringilla iliaca, Bonap. Si/nop. p. 112. — Fringilla (zonolrichia) iliaca, North. 
Zool. ii. p. 2o7. 

This plump and pretty species arrives in Pennsylvania from the 
north about the 20th of October ; frequents low, sheltered thickets ; 
associates in little flocks of ten or twelve ; and is almost continually 
scrapino; the ground, and rustling- among the fallen leaves. I found 
this bird numerous in November, among the rich, cultivated flats that 
border the River Connecticut ; and was informed that it leaves those 
places in spring;. 1 also found it in the northern parts of the state of 
Vermont Along the borders of the great reed and cypress swamps 
of Virginia and North and South Carolina, as well as around the rice 
plantations, I observ^ed this bird very frequently. They also inhabit 
Newfoundland.* They are rather of a solitary nature, seldom feed- 
ing in the open fields, but generally under thickets, or among tall, rank 
weeds on the edges of fields. They sometimes associate with the 
Snow Bird, but more generally keep by themselves. Their manners 
very much resemble those of the Red-eyed Bunting ; they are silent, 
tame, and unsuspicious. They have generally no other note while 
here than a shep, shep ; yet I suspect they have some song in the 
places where they breed ; for I once heard a single one, a little before 
the time tliey leave us, warble out a few very sweet, Ioav notes. 

The Fox-colored Sparrow is six inches long, and nine and a quarter 
broad ; the upper part of the head and neck is cinereous, edged with 
rust color ; back, handsomely mottled with reddish brown, and cin- 
ereous ; wings and tail, bright ferruginous ; the primaries, dusky 
within and at the tips, the first and second row of coverts, tipped 
with white ; breast and belly, white ; the former, as well as the ear- 
feathers, marked with large blotches of bright bay, or reddish broAvn, 
and the beginning of the belly with little an-ow-shaped spots of 
black ; the tail-coverts and tail are a bright fox-color ; tlie legs and 
feet, a dirty brownish white, or clay color, and very strong ; the bill is 
strong, dusky above and yellow below ; iris of the eye, hazel. TJie 
chief difference in the female is, that the wings are not of so bright a 
bay, inclining more to a drab ; yet this is scarcely observable, unless 
by a comparison of the two together. They are generally very fat, 
live on grass seeds, eggs of insects, and gravel. 

* Pennant. 



224 SAVANNAH SPARROW. 



SAVANNAH SPARROW. — FRINGILLA SAVANNA. — Fig. 102.— 
Female.* 

Pecde's Museum, No. 6584. 
ZOJ^OTRICHTA S.^r./iJVJVV3.— Jardine. 

FringiUa Savanna, Bonap. Synop. p. 108. 

This new species is an inhabitant of the low countries on the 
Atlantic coast, from Savannah, where I first discovered it, to the state 
of New York, and is generally resident in these places, though rarely 
found inland, or far from the sea-shore. The drawing of this bird 
was in the hands of the engraver before I was aware that the male (^a 
figure of which will appear hereafter) was so much its superior in 
beauty of markings and in general colors. W^ith a representation of 
the male will also be given particulars of their nest, eggs, and man- 
ners, Avhich, from the season, and the few specimens I had tlie oppor- 
tunity of procuring, I was at that time unable to collect I have since 
found these birds numerous on the sea-shore, in the state of New 
Jersey, particularly near Great Egg Harbor. A pair of these I pre- 
sented to Mr. Peale of tliis city, in whose noble collection they now 
occupy a place. 

The female of the Savannah Sparrow is five inches and a half long, 
and eight and a half in extent ; the plumage of the back is mottled 
with black, bright bay, and whitish ; chin, white ; breast, marked with 
pointed spots of black, edged with bay, running in chains from each 
base of the lower mandible ; sides, touched with long streaks of the 
same ; temples, marked with a spot of delicate yellow ; ear-feathers, 
slightly tinged with the same ; belly, white, and a little streaked ; 
inside of the shoulders, and lining of tlie wing, pale yellowish ; first 
and second rows of wing-coverts, tipped with whitish ; secondaries 
next tlie body, pointed and very black, edged also with bay ; tail, 
slightly forked, and witliout any white feathers ; legs, pale flesh color ; 
hind claw, pretty long. 

The very slight distinctions of color which Nature has drawn 
between many distinct species of this family of Finches, render these 
minute and tedious descriptions absolutely necessary, tliat the particu- 
lar species may be precisely discriminated, 

* The Male is figured, No. 153. 



LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE. 225 

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE. — LANIUS CAROLINENSIS. — Fig.104. 

Peak's Museum, No. 557. 

LjIJVIUS LVDO VICMJ\''US. — Co NAP ARTE. 

Lanius Ludovicianus, Bonap. Synop. p. 72. — The Loggerhead Slirike, And. pi. 57, 
male and female ; Orn. Biog. i. p. 300. 

This species has a considerable resemblance to the Great American 
Shrike.* It differs, however, from that bird in size, being a full inch 
shorter ; and in color, being much darker on the upper parts ; and in 
having the frontlet black. It also inhabits the warmer parts of the 
United States ; while the Great American Shrike is chiefly confined 
to tlie northern regions, and seldom extends to the south of Virginia. 

This species inhabits the rice plantations of Carolina and Georgia, 
where it is protected for its usefulness in destroying mice. It sits, for 
hours together, on the fence, beside the stacks of rice, watching like a 
cat ; and as soon as it perceives a mouse, darts on it like a Hawk. It 
also feeds on crickets and grasshoppers. Its note, in March, resembled 
the clear creaking of a sign-board in windy Aveather. It builds its 
nest, as I was informed, generally in a detached bush, much like that 
of tlie Mocking Bird ; but, as the spring was not then sufficiently 
advanced, I had no opportunity of seeing its eggs. It is generally 
known by the name of the Loggerhead, f 

* See Fig. 15. 

t In the remarks on the Tijranninm, I observed that only two of the sub-fam- 
ilies of the greater division Laniadce existed in North America, — that now alluded 
to, and the Laniance, of which our present species, with the L. borealis of a former 
plate, and that of Europe, will form typical examples. Ornithologists have always 
been at variance with regard to the position of these birds, and have placed them 
alike with the rapacious Falcons and timid Thrushes. They are, however, the 
" Falcons of the insect world ; " and among the Insessores will be the representatives 
of that group. 

America was seen to be the great country of the Tyrannince ; in like manner 
may the Shrikes claim Africa for their great birth-place. They there wage incessant 
war on the numerous insect hosts, the larger species occasionally exercising their 
greater strength on some of the weaker individuals of the feathered race ; and by some 
gamekeepers, that of this country is killed as a bird of prey, being found to destroy 
young birds, and even to drag the weak young pheasants through the bars of the 
breeding coops. Small animals and reptiles also form a part of their prey. They 
decrease in numbers as the colder and more temperate countries are approached ; 
and the vast extent of North America appears only to contain five species. New 
Holland alone is without any true Lanius, but is supplied by another genus, Falcun- 
culus, allied in form, and now containing two species, which also unite somewhat of 
their habits, and feed on insects, though the mode of taking their prey shows some- 
thing scansorial. 

Among the Tyrants, the powers of flight are dev^eloped to a great extent, as 
suitable to the capture of the particular prey upon which they feed. In the Shrikes, 
the form is considerably modified ; the wings become more rounded, and the tail 
graduated ; and the general prey is the larger insects of the orders Coleoptera and 
Hemiptera, to capture which does not require so great an exercise of very quick or 
active powers, and which are often patiently watched for and pounced upon by 
surprise, in a similar manner to that described of the North AmericaQ LoggerheaO. 

They have all the character of being cruel and tyrannous_, arising frora the pecu- 



226 LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE. 

This species is nine inches long, and thirteen in extent ; the color 
above is cinereous, or dark ash; scapulars and line over the eye, 

liar manner of impaling their prey upon thorns, or fastening it in the clefts of 
branches, often in a wanton manner, as if for the sake of murder only, thus fixing 
up all it can seize upon. One species is particularly remarkable for the regular 
exhibition of this propensity, and has become proverbial for its cruelty, — Lunias 
coUaris of Southern Africa. Its habits are thus described by Le Vaillant : — 
" \Vhen it sees a locust, a mantis, or a small bird, it springs upon it, and immedi- 
ately carries it off, in order to impale it on a thorn, which it does with great dex- 
terity, always passing the thorn through the head of its victim. Every animal which 
it seizes is subjected "to the same fate 5 and it thus continues all day long its mur- 
derous career, apparently instigated rather by the love of mischief than the desire 
of food. Its throne of tyranny is usually a dry and elevated branch of a tree, from 
which it pounces on all intruders, driving off the stronger and more troublesome, 
and impaling the inexperienced alive ; when hungry, it visits its shambles, and 
helps itself to a savory meal.'' The Hottentots assured Le Vaillant that it does 
not love fresh food, and therefore leaves its prey on the gibbet till it becomes 
putrescent; but beneath the scorching sun of Africa, the process of decomposition 
sometimes does not take place, fiom the rapid exhalation of the animal fluids in a 
warm and arid atmosphere, and, consequently, whatever spiny shrub may have been 
chosen by the Butcher Bird as the place of execution, is frequently found covered, 
not with sweet-smelling and many-colored blossoms, but with the dried carcasses 
of singing birds, and the bodies of locusts, and other insects of the larger size. 
The species of Great Britain, also, exercises this propensity ; but, according to Mr. 
Selby, it invariably kills its prey by strangulation before transfixing it. That gen- 
tleman mentions once having the gratification of witnessing this operation of the 
Shrike upon a Hedge Accentor, which it had just killed. " In this instance, after 
killing the bird, it hovered, with its prey in its bill, for a short time over the hedge, 
apparently occupied in selecting a thorn fit for its purpose. L^pon disturbing: it, and 
advancing to the spot, I found the Accentor firmly fixed by the tendons of tlie wing 
at the selected twig." When in confinement, this peculiarity is also displayed, in 
placing the food against or between the wires of the cage. They frequent woody 
countries, with occasional shrubs and hedges, among which they also breed ; the 
notes, as might be expected, are hoarse and grating, and during the season of incu- 
bation become verv garrulous, particularly when alarmed ; they are very attentive 
to their young, cmd continue long to feed and attend them after they are able to 
shift for themselves. It may be here remarked that the FalconidcB, which our 
present knowledge leads us to think is represented by this group, always take their 
prey to some eminence before commencing to devour it — a bare hillock or rock in 
an open country, the top of some old mound or dike, or, if in a wood, some de- 
cayed stump ; and I have known one spot of frequent recurrence by the same 
individuals ; thus showing some analogy to each other. 

The following seem to be the species which are known to belong to North 
America : — 

1. L. borealis, Vieill. — L. excubitor, Wils. Vol. i. p. 74, L. borecdis, Bonap. 
S\Tiop. App.* 

2. L. hidovicianus , Bonap. — L. Carolinensis, Wils. Vol. iii. p. 57 5 found only in 
the warmer and more southern states, the Carolinas and Georgia. 

3. Lanius excubitroides, Sw. Nov. spec. — American Gray Shrike, North. Zool. 
Vol. ii. p. 115. 

Specimens were brought to this country by the last over-land arctic expedition. 
According to Dr. Richardson, it is a more' northern bird than L. borealis, and does 
not advance farther north in summer than the 54° of latitude, and it attains that 
parallel only in the meridian of the warm and sandy plains of the Saskatchewan, 
which enjoy an earlier spring, and longer summer, than the densely-wooded coun- 
try betwixt them and Hudson's Bay. Its manners are precisely similar to 
those of L. borealis, feeding chiefly on grasshoppers, which are exceedingly 

* When writing the note at page 49, I was not nware that Bonaparte had taken notice 
of the mistake mentioned there in his Appendix to the Synopsis of North American 
Birds. — Ed. 



BELTED KINGSFISIIER. 227 

whitish ; wings, black, Avith a small spot of white at the base of the 
primaries, and tipped with white ; a stripe of black passes along the 
front, through each eye, half way doAvn the side of the neck ; eye, 
dark hazel, sunk below the eyebrow ; tail, cuneiform, tlie four middle 
feathers wholly black ; the four exterior ones, on each side, tipped, more 
and more with white to the outer one, whicii is nearly all white ; 
whole lower parts, white ; and in some specimens, both of males and 
females, marked with transverse lines of very pale brown; bill and 
legs, black. 

The female is considerably darker both above and below, but the 
black does not reach so high on tlie front ; it is also rather less in 
size. 



BELTED KINGSFISHER. — ALCEDO ALCYON. — Fig. 105. — 
Female. 

Bartram, p. 289.— Turton, p. 278. — Peak's Museum, No. 214.5. 

ALCEDO J3ZCF0JV. — LiNN.Tius.* 

Alcedo alcyon, Bonap. Synop. p. 49. — The Belted Kingsfisher, ^mc/. pi. 77 ; Orn. 
Biog. i. p. 394. 

This is a general inhabitant of the banks and shores of all our 
fresh water rivers, from Hudson's Bay to Mexico ; and is the only 
species of its tribe found within the United States. This last circum- 

numerous. Its nest was found in a bush of willows, built of twigs of ArtemesicR 
and dried grass, and lined with feathers ; the eggs, six in number, were very pale 
yellowish gray, with many irregular and confluent spots of oil green, interspersed 
with a few of smoke gray. 

The merit of unravelling this species from several very closely allied to it in its 
native country, and from that to which it approaches nearest, the L. excubitor of 
Europe, is due to Mr. Swainson ; the chief distinctive characters given by that 
naturalist are the small proportions of the bill, the frontal feathers crossed by a 
narrow band of deep black, the black stripe on the side of the head encircling the 
upper margin of the eyelid, lateral scales of the tarsus being divided in several 
pieces, the shorter length of the wing when closed, and in the tail being more 
graduated 5 the total length is nine inches, six lines. 

4. Lanius elegans, Sw. — White-crowned Shrike. 

Described by Mr. Swainson, from a specimen in the British Museum, to which 
it was presented from the Fur countries by the Hudson's Bay Company. It may 
at once be distinguished from the other American Shrikes, by the much greater 
quantity of white on the wings and tail 5 its narrower tail-feathers, longer tarsi, and 
less curved claws ; the length is about nine inches. 

5. Lanius (?) natka, Penn. — Natka Shrike. 

This species, the Nootka Shrike of Dr. Latham, from Nootka Sound, on the 
north-west coast of North America, seems to be of such dubious authority, that little 
can be said regarding it. — Ed. 

* The description of Wilson, and that of Audubon, which has been added in a 
note from the Ornithological Biographij, give a very correct detail of the general 
manners of the true Kingsfishers, or those resembling that of this country ; there is 
throughout the family, however, a very considerable difference in form, and, as a 
matter of course, a corresponding difference in habit 5 this has occasioned a di- 



228 BELTED KLNGSFISHER. 

stance, and its characteristic appearance, make it as universally known 
here as its elegant little brother, the Common Kingshsher of Europe, is 
in Britain. Like the lovelorn swains, of whom poets tell us, he 
delights in murmuring streams and falling waters ; not, however, 

vision of ihem into various groups, by almost all ornithologists; that to which our 
present species belongS; and of \vhich it is the largest, contains all those of smaller 
size with four toes and sharp angular and lengihened bills ; they feed entirely on 
tish and aquatic insects, and live on the banks of rivers, lakes, and creeks, and 
occa:?ionally on the sea-shore. They are distributed over the world, but the 
warmer parts of India, Africa, and South America, possess the greatest share, 
North America and Europe possessing onl}' one each. 'J'he colors ol the plumage, 
with a few exceptions, particularly the upper parts, are very bright and shining, the 
webs of the feathers unconnected and loose ; the under parts generally white, wiih 
shades of reddish brown and orange; the division nearest to this, containing but a 
few species of very small size, but similar in form and coloring, has been separated 
on account of having three toes, and, I believe, is exclusively Indian. Another 
and a well-marked group is the Halcyon of iMr. Swainson : it differs materially ia 
the fonn and manners of living, and ranges every where, except in PSorth America 
and Europe. The birds are all above the middle size, with a stouter and more 
robust form ; the colors sometimes very gaudy, in others of rich and pleasing 
shades of brown. The bill, a chief organ of distinction, is large, much dilated at 
the base, and, in one or two instances, very strong. They inhabit moist woods 
and shady streams or creeks, where they watch on a motionless perch tor the larger 
insects, as the common European species does for fish, and they dart upon them 
Vt'hen passing, or when seen on the ground, and return again to the same branch or 
rock ; they also chase their prey in the manner of the B'lycatchers. Notwithstand- 
ing these are their common food, fish, water insects, in a few instances crabs, are 
resorted to, and in all cases the vicinity of water seems requisite for their healthy 
support. There is an individual (Alcedo dea) which has been separated from this 
under the name of Tanysiptera ; the only distinction, now, (for it has four toes,) is 
the elongation of two tail-feathers, which exceed the length of the body consider- 
ably ; it was originally discovered in the Isle of Teruate, and, according to Lesson, 
is abundant in New Guinea, where it is killed by the natives for ornaments, and 
those coming to this country, being impaled on reeds, are consequently much muti- 
lated. Another division will comprise the very large New Holland species, under 
the title of Dacelo ;^ this contains yet only two species, commonly known by the 
name of'' Laughing Jackasses ;"' by the natives ihev are called Cuck'unda ;"they 
are nearly as large as a Common Pigeon, and have all the members very powerful ; 
the bill is much dilated, and bent at the tip ; according to Lesson, their chief food 
Ls large insects, which they seize on the ground ; that ornithologist extends the 
genus to several of the larger-billed small species ; we would now restrict it as 
bearing better marks to those of New Holland only, D. siganiea and Leachii. 
Another division has been formed among these curious birds, also by M. Lesson, 
of the Alcedo rnfipes of Cuvier. under the name of ISiima, and, as a specific appel- 
lation, that of Torotora, by which it is known to the Papons, in its native country, 
New Guinea. It frequents rivers and the sea-shores, and feeds on fish ; the prin- 
cipal distinction for which it has been separated is a serrature of the mandibles of 
the bill. M. Lesson, however, did not perceive any thing different from its con- 
geners to which this structure could be applied. From the above remarks it will 
be seen that the old genus Alcedo has been separated into no less than nine di- 
visions. Four of these will, periiaps, only be necessary, and are as follows: — 
1. Alcedo; having the form of Alcedo ispida ; feeding principally on fish; the geo- 
graphical distribution, the known world, except very northern latitudes ; the num- 
ber of species and individuals increasing from the extremes. 2. Halnjon ; the 
form of Sa7icti/s, ciiinmom^i/x. 07nnicolnr. ccc. ; containing Lesson's Todyrampus ; 
also, perhaps, his Sijma, and the Tanysiptera of \'igors ; the two latter groups, as 

* M. Lesson proposes a genus {Toihjrampus) for nil the smaller Now Holland species, 
taking^, sacra as the type, on nccotint, principally, of the more dil.'tcd bill. The same 
gentleman proposes the titles MfUilura and Choucalajon, to* designate forms among the 
KiBgsashers which I have not ascertained. 



• BELTED KLNGSFISHER. 229 

merely that they may soothe his ear, but for a gratification somewhat 
more substantial. Amidst the roar oftlio cataract, or over the foam of 
a ton-ent, he sits perched upon an overhanging bough, glancing his 
piercing eye in every direction below for his scaly prey, which, with 
a sudden, circular plunge, he sweeps from their native element, and 
swallows in an instant. Plis voice, which is not unlike the twirling 
of a watchman's rattle, is naturally loud, harsh, and sudden ; but is 
softened by the sound of the brawling streams and cascades among 
Avhich he generally rambles. He courses along the windings of the 
brook or river, at a small height above the surface, sometimes sus- 
pending himself by the rapid action of his wings, like certain species of 
Hawks, ready to pounce on the fry below ; now and then settling on 
an old, dead, overhanging limb to reconnoitre.* Mill-dams are particu- 
larly visited by this feathered fisher ; and the sound of his pipe is as 
well known to the miller as the rattling of his own hopper. Rapid 
streams, with high, perpendicular banks, particularly if they be of a 
hard clayey or sandy nature, are also favorite places of resort for this 
bird ; not only because in such places the small fish are more exposed 
to view, but because those steep and dry banks are the chosen situa- 
tions for his nest. Into these he digs v.ith bill and claws horizontally, 
sometimes to the extent of four or five feet, at the distance of a foot or 
two from the surface. The few materials he takes in are not always 
placed at the extremity of the hole, that he and his mate may have 
room to turn with convenience. The eggs are five, pure white, and 
tlie first brood usually comes out about the beginning of June, and 
sometimes sooner, according to the part of the country where they 
reside. On the shores of Kentucky River, near the town of Frankfort, 
I found the female sitting early in April. They are very tenacious of 
their haunts, breeding for several successive years in the same hole, 
and do not readily forsake it, even though it be visited. An intelligent 
young gentleman informed me, that having found where a Kingsfisher 
built, he took away its eggs from time to time, leaving always one 
behind, until he had taken no less than eighteen from the same nest 
At some of these visits, the female, being within, retired to the ex- 
tremity of the hole, while he witlidrew the egg, and next day, when 
he returned, he found she had laid again as usual. 

The fabulous stories related by the «,ncients of the nest, manner of 

species, would be at once distinginshed by the peculiarities of form, which are per- 
haps not sufficient to indicate a genus without more of like characters ; the g'eo- 
graphical distribution. South America, New Holland, Africa, and India, 3. Da- 
cpJo ; the form, D. gigantea ; g-eographical distribution, New Holland. And, 
4. Ceyx ; containing the Three-toed Kingsfisher, C irtrfart?/Za; geographical distri- 
bution, India. — Ed. 

* Mr. Audubon mentions, that this species sometimes also visits the salt water 
creeks, diving after fish ; when crossing from one lake to another, which it fre- 
quently does, it passes over forests in a direct line, not unfrequently by a course of 
twenty or thirty miles, towards the interior of the country. Its motions at this time 
consist of a series of slops, about five or six in number, followed by a direct glide, 
without any apparent undulation 

They dig the holes for their nest with great despatch. As an instance of their 
working with celerity, the same gentleman mentions, that he hung a small net in 
front of one of their holes to entrap the bird upon the nest; but, ere morning, it 
had scratched its way out. On the following evening, he stopped up the hole for 
upwards of a foot with a stick, but the same thing again took place. — Ed. 



230 BELTED KINGSFISHER 

hatching, «fcc., of the Kingsfisher, are too trifling to be repeated here. 
Over the winds and the waves the humble Kingsfishers of our days — at 
least, the species now before us — have no control. Its nest is neither 
constructed of glue nor fish-bones, but of loose grass and a few feath- 
ers ; it is not thrown on the surface of the water to float about, with its 
proprietor, at random, but snugly secured from the winds and the 
weather in the recesses of the earth. Neither is its head or its feath- 
ers believed, even by the most illiterate of our clowns or seamen, to 
be a charm for love, a protection against witchcraft, or a security for 
fair weather. It is neither venerated, like those of the Society Isles, 
nor dreaded, like those of some other countries : but is considered 
merely as a bird that feeds on fish ; is generally fat ; relished by so7ne 
as good eating ; and is now and then seen exposed for sale in our 
markets. 

Though the Kingsfisher generally remains witli us, in Pennsylva- 
nia, until the commencement of cold weather, it is seldom seen here 
in winter ; but returns to us early in April. In North and South 
Carolina, I obser\'ed numbers of these birds in the months of Feb- 
ruary and March. I also frequently noticed them on the shores of 
the Ohio, in February, as high up as the mouth of the Muskingum. 

I suspect this bird to be a native of the Bahama Islands, as well as cf 
our continent In passing betAveen these isles and the Florida shore, 
in the month of July, a Kingsfisher flew several times round our ship, 
and afterwards shot off to the south. 

The length of this species is twelve inches and a half; extent, 
t^venty ; back and whole upper parts, a light bluish slate color; round 
the neck is a collar of pure vWiite, which reaches before to the chin ; 
head, large, crested; the feathers, long and narrow, black in the cen- 
tre, and generally erect ; the shafts of all the feathers, except the white 
plumage, are black ; belly and vent, white ; sides under the wing:^, 
variegated with blue ; round the upper part of tlie breast passes a band 
of blue, interspersed with some light brown feathers ; before the eye 
is a small spot of white, and another immediately below it ; the bill is 
three inches long from the point to the sht of the mouth, strong, sharp- 
pointed, and black, except near the base of the lower mandible, and at 
the tip, Avhere it is of a horn color ; primaries and interior webs of the 
secondaries, black, spotted with white ; the interior vanes of tlie tail- 
laathers, elegantly spotted with white on a jet-black ground ; lower 
side, light colored ; exterior vanes, blue ; wing-coverts and seconda- 
ries, marked with small specks of white ; legs, extremely short; wlien 
the bird perches, it generally rests on the lower side of the second 
joint, vv'hich is thereby thick and callous ; claws, stout and black ; 
whole leg, of a dirty yellowish color; above the knee, bare of feathers 
for half an inch ; tlie two exterior toes united together for nearly tlieir 
whole length. 

The female is sprinkled all over with specks of white ; tlie band of 
blue around the upper part of the breast is nearly half reddish brown ; 
and a little below this passes a band of briglit reddish bay, spreading 
on each side under tlie wings. The blue and rufous feathers on the 
breast are strong, like scales. The head is also of a nuich darker blue 
than the back, and the white feathers on the chin and throat of an ex- 
quisite fine, glossy texture, like the most beautiful satin. 



BLACK AND YELLOW WARBLER. 231 



BLACK AND YELLOW WARBLER. — SYLVIA MAGNOLIA.— 
Fig. 106. 

Peak's Museum, No. 7783. 

SYLVICOLA MACULOSA. Sy;j.imov. 

Sylvia maculosa, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii. p. 536. — Bonap. Sijnop. p. 78. — Yellow- 
'Rump Warbler, Pe?m. Arct. Zool. ii. p. 400. — The Black and Yellow Warbler, 
(the young is figured only,) Aud. pi. 50 ; Orn. Biog. i. p. 260. — Sylvicola macu- 
losa. North. Zool. ii. p. 212. 

This bird I first met with on the banks of the Little Miami, near its 
junction with the Ohio. I afterwards found it among the magnolias, 
not far from Fort Adams, on the Mississippi. These two, both of 
which happened to be males, are all the individuals I have ever shot of 
this species ; from which I am justified in concluding it to be a very 
scarce bird in the United States. Mr. Peale, however, has the merit 
of having been the first to discover this elegant species, which, he in- 
forms me, he found, several years ago, not many miles from Philadel- 
phia. No notice has ever been taken of this bird by any European 
naturalist whose works I have examined. Its notes, or rather chirp- 
ings, struck me as very peculiar and characteristic, but have no claim 
to the title of song. It kept constantly among the higher branches, 
and was very active and restless. 

Length, five inches; extent, seven inches and a half ; front, ores, 
and behind the ear, black ; over the eye, a fine line of white, and an- 
other small touch of the same immediately under ; back, nearly all 
black ; shoulders, thinly streaked with olive ; rump, yellow ; tail- 
coverts, jet black; inner vanes of the lateral tail-feathers, white to 
within half an inch of the tip, where they are black ; two middle ones, 
wholly black ; whole lower parts, rich yellow, spotted from the throat 
downwards with black streaks ; vent, white ; tail, slightly forked ; 
wings, black, crossed with tvro broad, transverse bars of white ; crown, 
fine ash ; legs, brown ; bill, black. Markings of the female not 
known. 



BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER. — SYLVIA BLACKBURNI^. — 
Fig. 107. 

Lath. ii. p. 461, No. 61. — Peale's Museum, No. 7060. 

SYLVICOLA BLACKBURJ\ri^.—JARDiTiz. 

Sylvia Blackburuiee, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 80. 

This is another scarce species in Pennsylvania, making its appear- 
ance here about the beginning of May, and again in September, on its 
return, but is seldom seen here during the middle of summer. It is an 
active, silent bird ; inhabits also the state of New York, from whence 
it was first sent to Eurooe. Mr. Latham has numbered this as a vari- 



232 AUTUMNAL WARBLER. 

ety of the Yellow-fronted Warbler, a very different species. The 
specimen sent to Europe, and first described by Pennant, appears also 
to have been a female, as the breast is said to be yellow, instead of 
tlie brilliant orange with which it is ornamented. Of the nest and 
habits of this bird I can give no account, as there is not more than one 
or two of these birds to be found here in a season, even with the most 
diligent search. 

The Blackburnian Warbler is four inches and a half long, and sev- 
en in extent ; crown, black, divided by a line of orange ; the black 
again bounded on the outside by a stripe of rich orange passing over 
the eye ; under the eye, a small touch of orange yellow ; whole throat 
and breast, rich, fiery orange, bounded by spots and streaks of black ; 
belly, dull yellow, also streaked witli black ; vent, white ; back, black, 
skirted with ash ; wings, the same, marked Avith a large lateral spot of 
white ; tail, slightly forked ; the interior vanes of the three exterior 
feathers, white ; cheeks, black ; bill and legs, brown. The female is 
yellow where the male is orange ; the black streaks are also more 
obscure and less numerous. 



AUTUxMNAL WARBLER. — SYLVIA AUTUMNALIS. — Fig. 108. 

SYLVICOLAl AUTUMJ^ALIS. — Jardine. 

Sylvicola auluninalls, Bonap. Synop. p. 84. — The Autumnal Warbler, Aud. plate 
88 J Orn. Biog. i. p. 'Wl. 

This plain, little species regularly visits Pennsylvania from the 
north, in the month of October, gleaning among the willow leaves ; 
but, what is singular, is rarely seen in spring. From the 1st to the 
loth of October, they may be seen in considerable numbers, almost 
every day, in gardens, particularly among the branches of tlie weeping- 
willow, and seem exceedingly industrious. They have some resem- 
blance, in color, to the Pine-creeping Warbler; but do not run along 
the trunk like that bird, neither do they give a preference to the pines. 
They are also less. After the first of November, they are no longer 
to be found, unless tlie season be uncommonly mild. These birds, 
doubtless, pass through Pennsylvania in spring, on their way to 
the north ; but either make a very hasty journey, or frequent the tops 
of the tallest trees ; for I have never yet met with one of them in that 
seasoD, though in October I have seen more than a hundred in an 
afternoon's excursion. 

Length, four inches and three quarters ; breadth, eiglit inches ; 
whole upper parts, olive green, streaked on tlie back with dusky 
stripes ; tail-coverts, a^h, tipped with olive ; tail, black, edged with 
dull Avhite ; the three exterior feathers, marked near the tip with white ; 
wings, deep dusky, edged witli olive, and crossed Avitli two bars of 
white ; primaries, also tipped, and three secondaries next the body, 
edged witli white ; upper mandible, dusky brown ; lower, as well as 
tlie chin and breast, dull yellow ; belly and vent, white ; legs, dusky 
brown ; feet and claws, yellow ; a pale, yellow ring surrounds the 
eye. The males of these birds often warble out some low but very 
sweet notes, wliile searching among the leaves in autumn. 



WATER THRUSH 233 

WATER THRUSH. — TURDUS AQUATICUS. — Fig. 109. 

Peale^s Museum, No. 6896. 

SEIURUS AQ,UATICUS. — Svi xir^so^. 

New York Warbler, Penn. Arct. Zool. ii. p. 303. — Sylvia Noveboraccnsis, Bonap. 
Sijnop. p. 77. — Seiurus aquaticus, Aquatic Accentor, North. Zool. ii. p. 229. 

This bird is remarkable for its partiality to brooks, rivers, shores, 
ponds, and streams of Avater; wading in the shallows in search of 
aquatic insects, wagging the tail almost continually, chattering as it 
flies ; and, in short, possesses many strong traits and habits of the 
Water Wagtail. It is also exceedingly shy, darting away on the least 
attempt to approach it, and uttering a sharp chip repeatedly, as if 
greatly alarmed. Among the mountain streams in the state of Ten- 
nessee, I found a variety of this bird pretty numerous, with legs of a 
bright yellow color ; in other respects, it differed not from the rest 
About the beginning of May, it passes through Pennsylvania to the 
nort]i ; is seen along the channels of our solitary streams for ten or 
twelve days ; afterwards disappears until August. It is probable that 
it breeds in the higher mountainous districts even of this state, as do 
many other of our spring visitants that regularly pass a week or two 
with us in the lower parts, and then retire to the mountains and in- 
land forests to breed. 

But Pennsylvania is not the favorite resort of this species. The 
cane brakes, swamps, river shores, and deep, watery solitudes of 
Louisiana, Tennessee, and the Mississippi Territory, possess them in 
abundance ; there they are eminently distinguished by the loudness, 
sweetness, and expressive vivacity of their notes, Avhich begin very 
high and clear, falling with an almost imperceptible gradation till 
they are scarcely articulated. At these times the musician is perched 
on the middle branches of a tree over the brook or river bank, pouring 
out his charming melody, that may be distinctly heard for nearly half 
a mile. The voice of this little bird appeared to me so exquisitely 
sweet and expressive, that I was never tired of listening to it, while 
traversing the deep-shaded hollows of those cane brakes where it 
usually resorts. I have never yet met with its nest. 

The Water Thrush is six inches long, and nine and a half in ex- 
tent; the whole upper parts are of a uniform and very dark olive, with 
a line of white extending over the eye, and along the sides of the 
neck ; the lower parts are white, tinged with yellow ochre ; the whole 
breast and sides are marked with pointed spots or streaks of black or 
deep brown ; bill, dusky brown ; legs, flesh colored ; tail, nearly even ; 
bill, formed almost exactly like the Golden-crowned Thrush, above 
described, (Fig. 59;) and, except in frequenting the water, much 
resembling it in manners. Male and female nearly alike. 
20* 



334 PAINTED BUNTING. 



PAINTED BUNTING. — EMBERIZA CIRIS. — Fig. 110, Male; 
Fig. Ill, Female. 

Linn. Syst. 313. — Painted Finch, Catesb. i. 44. — JEt/u'. 130, \1^. — Arct. Zool. 
p. 362. No. 226. — Le Verdier de la Louisiane, dit vulgairement le Pape, Briss. 
iii. 200, ^pp. H. — Buf. iv. 76, PL enl. 159. — Lath. ii. 206. — Linaria ciris, 
The Painted Finch, or Nonpareil, Bartram, p. 291. — Peak's Museum, No. 6062 
and 6063. 

SPIZA C/-R/S. — Bonaparte.* 

Fringilla (sub-genus Spiza) ciris, Bonap. Synop. p. 107. — La pesserine nonpareil 
ou le papa, Passerina ciris, Vieill. Gall, des Ois. pi. 66. — The Painted Finch, 
Aud. pi. 53, male and female j Om. Biog. i. 279. 

This is one of the most numerous of the little summer birds of 
Lower Louisiana, where it is universally known among the French in- 
habitants, and called by them Le Pape., and by the Americans T'he 
.Xonpareil. \\s gay dress and docility of manners have procured it 
many admirers ; for these qualities are strongly attractive, and carry 
their own recommendations always along with them. The low coun- 
tries of the Southern States, in the vicinity of the sea, and along the 
borders of our large rivers, particularly among the rice plantations, are 
the favorite haunts of this elegant little bird. A few are seen in North 
Carolina; in South Carolina they are more numerous, and still more 
so in the lower parts of Georgia. To the westward, I first met them 
at Natchez, on the Mississippi, where they seemed rather scarce. 
Below Baton Rouge, along the Levee, or embankment of the river, they 
appeared in grea^ numbers ; and continued to become more common 
as I approached New Orleans, where they were warbling from almost 
every fence, and crossing the road before me every few minutes. 
Their notes very much resemble those of the Indigo Bird, (Fig. 23,) 
but want the strength and energy of the latter, being more feeble and 
more concise. 

* From the general request of this species as a pet, it is requisite that considerable 
numbers should be taken, and the method used is thus described by Audubon. 1 
may remark, in the takino^ of various birds alive, " call birds," or lame ones, 
trained for the purpose of decoy, are commonly used in all countries, and in some 
instances, a stufl'ed specimen, or even a representation made of Paris plaster, is 
used with success. 

'' A male bird, in full plumage, is shot, and stuffed in a defensive attitude, and 
perched among some grass seed, rice, or other food, on the same platform as the 
traji-rasre. This is taken to the fields, or near the orangeries, and placed in so open 
a situation, that it would be difficult for a living bird of any species to fly over it 
without observing it. The trap is set. A male Painted Finch passes, perceives it, 
and dives towards the stuffed bird, brings down the trap, and is made prisoner. 
In this manner, thousands of these birds are cauglit every sj)ring; and so pertina- 
cious are they in their attacks, that, even when the trap has closed upon them, ihey 
coi'tinue pecking at the feathers of the supposed rival." 

They feed immediately, and some have been kept in confinement for ten years. 
They cost about sixpence in New Orleans) but, in London, three guineas are 
sometimes asked. 

The various generic nomonrlature to which this bird has been subjected, shows 
that ornithologists are at variance in opinion. It forms part of the first section of 
Bonaparte's sub-genus Spha, to which should also be referred the Fringilla Cya- 
nea, (Fig. 23.) — Ed. 



PAINTED BUNTING. 235 

I found these birds very commonly domesticated in the houses of 
the French inhabitants of New Orleans, appearing- to be the most 
common cage bird they have. The neg-roes often bring them to mar- 
ket, from the neighboring plantations, for sale ; either in cages, taken 
in traps, or in the nest A wealthy French planter, who lives on the 
banks of the Mississippi, a few miles below Bayou Fourche, took me 
into his garden, which is spacious and magnificent, to show me his 
aviary ; where, among many of our common birds, I observed several 
Nonpareils, two of which had nests, and were then hatching. 

Were the same attention bestowed on these birds as on the Canary, 
I have no doubt but they would breed with equal facility, and become 
equally numerous and familiar, while the richness of their plumage 
might compensate for their inferiority of song. Many of them have 
been transported to Europe ; and I think I have somewhere read, that 
in Holland attempts have been made to breed them, and with success. 
When the employments of the people of the United States become 
more sedentary, like those of Europe, the innocent and agreeable 
amusement of keeping and rearing birds in this manner, will become 
more general than it is at present, and their manners better known. 
And I cannot but think, that an intercourse with these little innocent 
warblers is favorable to delicacy of feeling arid sentiments of humanity ; 
for I have observed the rudest and most savage softened into benevo- 
lence while contemplating the interesting manners of these inofien- 
sive little creatures. 

Six of these birds, which I brought with me from New Orleans by 
sja, soon became reconciled to the cage. In good weather, the males 
sang with great sprightliness, though they had been caught only a 
few days before my departure. They were greedily fond of flies, 
which accompanied us in great numbers during the whole voyage; 
and many of the passengers amused themselves Avith catching these, 
and giving them to the Nonpareils ; till, at length, the birds became so 
v.'ell acquainted with this amusement, that as soon as they perceived 
any of the people attempting to catch flies, they assembled at the front 
of the cage, stretching out their heads through the wires with eager 
expectation, evidently much interested in the issue of their eflfbrts. 

These birds arrive in Louisiana, from the south, about the middle 
of April, and begin to build early in May. In Savannah, according 
to Mr. Abbot, they arrive about the 20th of April. Their nests are 
usually fixed in orange hedges, or on the lower branches of the orange- 
t'-ee; I have also found them in a common bramble or blackberry 
i)ush. They are f)rmed exteriorly of dry grass, intermingled with the 
silk of caterpillars, lined with hair, and, lastly, with some extremely 
fine roots of plants. The eggs are four or five, white, or rather pearl 
colored, marked with purplish brown specks. As some of these nests 
hivd eggs so late as the 2.5th of June, I think it probable that they 
sometimes raise two broods in the same season. The young birds of 
hotli s^xes, during the first season, are of a fine green olive above, and 
dull yellow below. The females undergo little or no change, but that 
rf becoming of a more brownish cast. The males, on the contrary, 
are long and slow in arriving at th<nr full variety of colors. In the 
second season, the blue on the head begins to make its appearance, 
intermixed with the olive green; the next year, the yellow shows itself 



236 PROTHONOTARY WARBLER. 

on the back and rump, and also the red, in detached spots, on the 
throat and lower parts. All these colors are completed in the fourth 
season, except, sometimes, that the green still continues on the tail. 
On the fourth and fifth season, the bird has attained his complete colors, 
and appears then as represented in the plate, (Fig. 110.) No depen- 
dence, however, can be placed on the regularity of this change in birds 
confined in a cage, as the want of proper food, sunshine, and variety 
of climate, all conspire against the regular operations of nature. 

The Nonpareil is five inches and three quarters long, and eight 
inches and three quarters in extent ; head, neck above, and sides of 
the same, a rich purplish blue ; eyelid, chin, and whole lower parts, 
vermilion ; back and scapulars, glossy yellow, stained with rich green, 
and in old birds witli red ; lesser wing-coverts, purple ; larger, green ; 
wings, dusky red, sometimes edged with green; lower part of the 
back, rump, and tail-coverts, deep glossy red, inclining to carmine ; 
tail, slightly forked, purplish brown, (generally green;) legs and feet, 
leaden gray; bill, black above, pale blue below; iris of the eye, hazel. 

The female (Fig. Ill) is five and a half inches long, and eight inches 
in extent; upper parts, green olive, brightest on the rump; lower 
parts, a dusky Naples yellow, brightest on the belly, and tinged con- 
siderably on the breast ^yith dull green, or olive ; cheeks, or ear- 
feathers, marked with lighter touches ; bill, Avholly a pale lead color, 
lightest below ; legs and feet, the same. 

The food of these birds consists of rice, insects, and various kinds 
of seeds that gi'ow luxuriantly in their native haunts. I also observed 
tliem eating the seeds or internal grains of ripe figs. They frequent 
gardens, building within a few paces of the house ; are particularly 
attached to orangeries ; and chant occasionally during the whole 
summer. Early in October they retire to more southern climates, 
being extremely susceptible of cold. 



PROTHONOTARY WARBLER. — SYLVIA PROTONOTARIUS. 
— Fig. 112. 

Arct. Zool. p. 410. — 5w/. v. 316.^ Lath. ii. 49-i. PL enl. l(n. — Peak's 
Museum, No. 7020. 

VERjMIVORA 7 pro TOjVO T.iRIUS. — J a an i ne. 

Sylvia (sub-genus Dacnis, Ctw.) protcnotarius, Bonap. Sinwp. p. 86. — The 
Prothonotary Warbler, And. pi. 3, male and female ; Om. Biog. i. p. 22. 

This is an inhabitant of the same country as the preceding species, 
and also a passenger from the south, with this difference, that the bird 
now before us seldom approaclies the house or garden, but keeps 
among the retired, deep, and dark, swampy woods, through which it 
flits nimbly in search of small caterpillars, uttering every now and 
then a few screaking notes, scarcely wortliy of notice. They are 



WORM-EATING WARBLER. 237 

abundant in the Mississippi and New Orleans Territories, near the 
river, but are rarely found on the hig-h ridges inland. 

From the peculiar form of its bill, being roundish and remarkably 
pointed, this bird mig'ht, Avith propriety, be classed as a sub-genera, or 
separate family, including several others, viz., the Blue-winged Yellow 
Warbler, the Gold-crowned Warbler, and Golden-winged Warbler, 
represented in No. GS, and the Worm-eating Warbler, No. 113, and a 
few more. The bills of all these correspond nearly in form and point- 
edness, being generally longer, thicker at the base, and more round 
than those of the genus S}j!via, generally. The first-mentioned species, 
in particular, greatly resembles this in its general appearance; but the 
bill of the Prothonotary is rather stouter, and the yellow much deeper, 
extending farther on the back; its manners, and the country it in- 
habits, are also different. 

This species is five inches and a half long, and eight and a half in 
extent ; the head, neck, and whole lower parts, (except the vent,) are 
of a remarkably rich and brilliant yellow, slightly inclining to orange ; 
vent, white ; back, scapulars, and lesser wing-coverts, yellow olive ; 
Avings, rump, and tail-coverts, a lead blue ; interior vanes of the former, 
black ; tail, nearly even, and black, broadly edged with blue ; all the 
feathers, except the two middle ones, are marked on their inner vanes, 
near the tip, with a spot of white ; bill, long, stout, sharp-pointed, and 
wholly black ; eyes, dark hazel ; legs and feet, a leaden gray. The 
female differs in having the yellow and blue rather of a duller tint ; 
the inferiority, however, is scarcely noticeable. 



WORM-EATING WARBLER. — SYLVIA VERMIVORA.— 
Fig. 113. 

Arct. Zool. p. 406, No. 3O0. — EduK 305. — Lath. ii. 499. — Le dcmi-fin mang-eur 
de vers, Buff. v. 325. — Peak's Museum, No. 6848. 

VERMIFORM PEJ\rJVSYLr.SJVICj}. — Swainsox.* 

Ficedula Pennsylvanica, By-iss. i. 457. — Sylvia (sub-genus Dacnis, Cuv.) Pennsyl- 
vanica, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 86. — The Worm-eating- Warbler, Aud. pi. 34, male 
and female ; Orn. Biog. i. p. 177. 

This is one of the nimblest species of its whole family, inhabiting 
the same country with th^ preceding, but extending its migrations 
much farther north. It arrives in Pennsylvania about the middle of 
May, and leaves us in September. I have never yet met with its nest, 
but have seen them feeding their young about the 2.5th of June. This 
bird is remarkably fond of spiders, darting about wherever there is a 
probability of finding these insects. If there be a branch broken, and 
the leave^ withered, it shoots among them in preference to every other 

*^ This species is the type of Mr. Swainson's genus Vermivora. The specific 
title is therefore lost, and I see none better than the restoration of Brisson's old 
one. — Ed. 



238 WORM-EATING WARBLER. 

part of the tree, making a great rustling, in search of its prey. I have 
often watched its mancemTes while thus engaged, and flying from tree 
to tree in search of such places. On dissection, I have uniformly 
found their stomachs filled with spiders or caterpillars, or botli. Its 
note is a feeble chirp, rarely uttered. 

The Worm-Eater is five inches and a quarter in length, and eight 
inches in extent ; back, tail, and Avings, a fine clear olive ; tips and 
inner vanes of the wing-quills, a dusky brown ; tail, slightly forked, 
yet the exterior feathers are somewhat shorter than the middle ones ; 
head and whole lower parts, a dirty buff; the former marked with four 
streaks of black, one passing from each nostril, broadening as it de- 
scends the hind head ; and one from the posterior angle of each eye ; 
the bill is stout, straight, pretty thick at the base, roundish, and taper- 
ing to a fine point; no bristles at the side of the mouth; tongue, thin, 
and lacerated at the tip ; the breast is most strongly tinged Avith the 
orange buff; vent, waved with dusky olive ; bill, blackish above, flesh- 
colored below ; legs and feet, a pale clay color ; eye, dark hazel. The 
female differs very little in color from the male. 

On this species Mr. Pennant makes the following remarlis : — "Does 
not appear in Pennsylvania till July, in its passage northward. Does 
not return the same way, but is supposed to go beyond the mountains 
which lie to the west This seems to be the case v.-ith all the transient 
vernal visitants of Penns3''lvania." * That a small bird should pennit 
the whole spring, and half of tlie summer, to pass away before it 
thought of "passing to the north to breed," is a circumstance, one 
should tliink, would have excited the suspicion of so discerning a 
naturalist as the author of Arctic Zoology, as to its trutli. I do not 
know that this bird breeds to the northward of the United States. As 
to their returning home by "the country beyond the mountains," this 
must, doubtless, be for the purpose of finishing the education of their 
striplings here, as is done in Europe, by m.aking the grand tour. This, 
by the by, would be a much more convenient retrograde route for the 
Ducks and Geese ; as, like tlie Kentuckians,they could take advantage 
of the current of the Ohio and Mississippi, to float down to the south- 
ward. Unfortunately, however, for this pretty theory, all our vernal 
visitants, with which I am acquainted, are contented to plod home by 
the same regions through which tliey advanced, not even excepting 
the Geese. 

* Arctic Zoology, p. 406. 



YELLOW-WINGED SPARROW. 239 



YELLOW-WINGED SPARROW.— FRINGILLA PASSERINA.— 

Fig. 114. 

Peale's Museum, No. 6585. 

EMBERIZA ? PASSERLYjS. — Jardi ne.* 

Fringilla (sub-genus Spiza) passerina, Bonap. Si/nop. p. 109. 

This small species is now for the first time introduced to the notice 
of the public. I can, however, say little towards illustrating its his- 
tory, which, like that of many individuals of the human race, would 
be but a dull detail of humble obscurity. It inhabits the lower parts 
of New York and Pennsylvania ; is very numerous on Staten Island, 
where I first observed it ; and occurs also along the sea-coast of New 
Jersey. But, though it breeds in each of these places, it does not re- 
main in any of them during the winter. It has a short, weak, inter- 
rupted cherup, which it occasionally utters from the fences and tops 
of low bushes. Its nest is fixed on the ground among the grass ; is 
formed of loose, dry grass, and lined with hair and fibrous roots of 
plants. The eggs are five, of a grayish white, sprinkled with brown. 
On the first of August I found the female sitting. 

I cannot say what extent of range this species has, having never met 
with it in the Southern States ; though I have no doubt that it winters 
there, with many others of its tribe. It is the scarcest of all our sum- 
mer Sparrows. Its food consists principally of grass seeds, and the 
larvsB of insects, which it is almost continually in search of among 
the loose soil and on the surface : consequently it is more useful to 
the farmer than otherwise. 

The length of this species is five inches ; extent, eight inches ; 
upper part of the head, blackish, divided by a slight line of white ; 
hind head and neck above, marked with short lateral touches of black 
and white ; a line of yellow extends from above the eye to the nos- 
tril ; cheeks, plain brownish white ; back, streaked with black, brown, 
and pale ash ; shoulders of the wings, above and below, and lesser 
coverts, olive yellow ; greater wing-coverts, black, edged with pale 
ash ; primaries, light drab ; tail, the same, the feathers rather pointed 
at the ends, the outer ones white ; breast, plain yellowish white, or 
pale ochre, which distinguishes it from the Savannah Sparrow, (Fig. 
102 ;) belly and vent, white ; three or four slight touches of dusky at 
the sides of the breast ; legs, flesh color ; bill, dusky above, pale 
bluish white below. The male and female are nearly alike in color. 

*"Afew of these birds," the Prince of Musigiiano remarks, "can never be 
separated in any natural arrangement." What are now placed under the name 
Emberiza, will require a sub-genus for themselves, perhaps the analogous form 
of that genus in the New World. In this species we have the palatial knob, and 
convergmg edges of the mandibles ; and, by Bonaparte, it is placed among the 
Finches, in the second section of his sub-genus Spiza, as formmg the passage to 
the Buntinffs. — Ed. 



240 BLUE GROSBEAK. 



BLUE GROSBEAK. — LOXIA CCERULEA. — Fig. 115. 

Linn. Syst. SM-. — Lafh. iii. U6. — Arct. Zool. p. 351, No. 211. — Catesb. i. 39. — 
Btif. iii. 454. PL enl. 154. — Peak's Museum, No. 5826. 

GUIRACJi CCERULEA. — SvfAjysot^* 

Fringilla coerulea; Bonap. Sijnop. p. 114. 

This solitary and retired species inhabits the warmer parts of 
America, from Guiana, and probably farther south,t to Virginia. Mr. 
Bartram also saw it during a summer's residence near Lancaster, 
Pennsylvania. In the United States, however, it is a scarce species ; 
and having but few notes, is more rarely obseiTed. Their most com- 
mon note is a loud chuck ; they have also at times a few low, sweet- 
toned notes. They are sometimes kept in cages, in Carolina ; but 
seldom sing in confinement The individual represented in Fig. 115, 
was a very elegant specimen, in excellent order, tliough just arrived 
from Charleston, South Carolina. During its stay with me, I fed it on 
Indian corn, which it seemed to prefer, easily breaking vvith its pow- 
erful bill the hardest grains. They also feed on hemp seed, millet, 
and the kernels of several kinds of berries. They are timid birds, 
watchful, silent, and active, and generally neat in their plumage. 
Having never yet met with their nest, I am unable at present to de- 
scribe it. 

The Blue Grosbeak is six inches long, and ten inches in extent ; 
lores and frontlet, black ; Avhole upper parts, a rich purplish blue, 
more dull on the back, where it is streaked with dusky ; greater wing- 
coverts, black, edged at the tip with bay ; next superior row, wholly 
chestnut ; rest of the wing, black, skirted witli blue ; tail, forked, 
black, slightly edged with bluish, and sometimes minutely tipped 
with white ; legs and feet, lead color ; bill, a dusky bluish horn color ; 
eye, large, full, and black. 

The female is of a dark drab color, tinged with blue, and considera- 
bly lightest below. I suspect the males are subject to a change of 
color during winter. The young, as usual with miny otlier species, 
do not receive the blue color until the ensuing spring, and, till tlien, 
very much resemble the female. 

Lathim makes two varieties of tliis species ; the first, wholly blue, 
except a black spot between the bill and eye ; this bird inliabits 
Brazil, and is figured by Brisson, OnvJho'ogi/, iii. 3'21, No. (3, pi. 17, 
Fig. 2. Tbe other is also generally of a fine deep blue, except tlie 
quills, tail, and legs, which are black ; this is Edwards's '' Blue Gros- 
beak, from Angola," pi. 125 ; Avliich Dr. Latham suspects to have 
been brought from some of the Brazilian settlements, and considers 
both as mere varieties of the first. I am sorry I cannot at present 
clear up this matter, but shall take some fuitlier notice of it hereafter. 

* fiOxia cnemlea is not figured in the PI. enl. That bird is a Pitijhis. 
t Latham, ii. p. IIG. 



MISSISSIPPI KITE. 241 



MISSISSIPPI KITE — FALCO MISSISSIPPIENSIS. — Fig. 116. — 

Male. 

Peak's Museum, No. 403. 

ICTIJVM PLUMBEA. — Vieillot,* 

L'Ictinie ophiophaga, Ictinia ophiophag-a, Vieill. Gall, des Ols. pi. 17. — Fancon 
ophiophaga, 2d edit, du Noiw. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. ii. p. 103, female, (auct. 
Vieill.) — Falco plumbeus, Bonap. Synop. p. 30. 

This new species I first observed in the Mississippi Territory, a few- 
miles below Natchez, on the plantation of William Dunbar, Esq., 
where the bird represented in the plate was obtained, after being 
slightly wounded ; and the drawing made with great care from the 
living bird. To the hospitality of the gentleman above mentioned, 
and his amiable family, I am indebted for the opportunity afforded me 
of procuring this and one or two more new species. This excellent 
man, whose life has been devoted to science, though at that time con- 
fined to bed by a severe and dangerous indisposition, and personally 
unacquainted with me, no sooner heard of my arrival at the town of 
Natchez, than he sent a servant and horses, Avith an invitation and 
request to come and make his house my home and head-quarters, 
while engaged in exploring that part of the country. The few happy 
days I spent there I shall never forget 

In my perambulations I frequently remarked this Hawk sailing 
about in easy circles, and at a considerable height in the air, gener- 
ally in company with the Turkey Buzzards, whose manner of flight it 
so exactly imitates as to seem the same species, only in miniature, or 
seen at a more immense height. Why these two birds, whose food 
and manners, in other respects, are so different, should so frequently 
associate together in air, I am at a loss to comprehend. We cannot 
for a moment suppose them mutually deceived by the similarity of 
each other's flight : the keenness of their vision forbids all suspicion 
of this kind. They may perhaps be engaged, at such times, in mere 
amusement, as they are observed to soar to great heights previous to 
a storm, or, what is more probable, they may both be in pursuit of 
their respective food ; — one, that he may reconnoitre a vast extent of 
surface below, and trace the tainted atmosphere to his favorite car- 
rion ; the other in search of those large beetles, or coleopterous 
insects, that are known often to wing the higher regions of the air ; 

* This, from every authority, appears to be the Falco plumbetis of Latham. 
Vieillot has described it in his Gatlerie des Oiseaux, under the title of Ictinia 
ophiophaga, descriptive of its manner of feeding; but has since restored the 
specific name to what it should be by the right of priority entitled. The genus, 
however, is retained, and appears yet confined to America, inhabiting the Southern 
States of the northern continent, South America, and Mexico. It will be charac- 
terized by a short bill ; short, slender, scutellated, and partly feathered tarsi, and 
with the outer toe connected by a membrane ; tne claws, short ; wings, very long, 
reaching beyond the tail ; the tail, even. Bonaparte thinks that it should steuui 
wtcrmedjate between Falco And Milvus, somewhat allied to Buteo. — Ed. 

21 



242 MISSISSIPPI KITE. 

and which, in the three individuals of this species of Hawk which I 
examined by dissection, were the only substances found in their 
stomachs. For several miles, as I passed near Bayou Manchak, the 
trees were swarming with a kind of Cicada, or locust, that made a 
deafening noise ; and here I observ^ed numbers of the Hawk now 
before us sweeping about among the trees like Swallows, evidently in 
pursuit of these locusts ; so that insects, it would appear, are the prin- 
cipal food of this species. Yet when we contemplate the beak and 
talons of this bird, both so sharp and powerful, it is difficult to believe 
that tliey were not intended by nature for some more fonnidable prey 
than beetles, locusts, or grasshoppers ; and I doubt not but mice, 
lizards, snakes, and small birds, furnish him with an occasional repast, 

This Hawk, though wounded and precipitated from a vast height, 
exhibited, in his distress, symptoms of great strength and an almost 
unconquerable spirit. I no sooner approached to pick liim up than he 
instantly gave battle, striking rapidly with his claws, wheeling round 
and round as he lay partly on his rump, and defending himself with 
great vigilance and dexterity ; while his dark, red eye sparkled with 
rage. Notwithstanding all my caution in seizing him to carry him 
home, he struck his hind claw into my hand with such force as to 
penetrate into the bone. Anxious to preserve his life, I endeavored 
gently to disengage it ; but this made him only contract it the more 
powerfully, causing such pain that I had no other alternative but that 
of cutting the sinew of his heel with my penknife. The whole time 
lie lived with me, he seemed to watch every movement I made ; 
erecting the feathers of his hind head, and eyeing me with savage 
fierceness ; considering me, no doubt, as the greater savage of the two. 
What effect education might have had on this species under the tutor- 
ship of some of tlie old European professors of falconry, I know not ; 
but if extent of wing, and energy of character, and ease and rapidity 
of flight, would have been any recommendations to royal patronage, 
tliis species possesses all these in a very eminent degree. 

The long-pointed wings and forked tail point out the affinity of this 
bird to that family or subdivision of the Falco genus, distinguished by 
the name of Kites, which sail without flapping the wings, and eat 
from their talons as they glide along. 

The Mississippi Kite measures fourteen inches in length, and 
thirty-six inches, or three feet in extent ! The head, neck, and exte- 
rior webs of tlie secondaries, are of a hoary white ; the lower parts, a 
whitish ash ; bill, cere, lores, and narrow line round the eye, black ; 
back, rump, scapulars, and wing-coverts, dark blackish ash ; wings, 
very long and pointed, the third quill tlie longest ; the primaries are 
black, marked down each side of the shaft with reddish sorel ; pri- 
mary coverts also slightly touched with the same ; all the upper 
plumage at the roots is white ; the scapulars are also spotted with 
white — but this camiot be perceived unless tlie featliers be blown 
aside ; tail, slightly forked, and, as well as the rump, jet black ; legs, 
vermilion, tinged with orange, and becoming blackish towards the 
toes ; claws, black ; iris of the eye, dark red ; pupil, black. 

This was a male. Witli the female, which is expected soon from 
that country, I sliall, in a future volume, communicate such further 
information relative to tlieir manners and incubation as I may be able 
to collect 



TENiNESSEE WARBLER. 243 

TENNESSEE WARBLER. —SYLVIA PEREGRINA —Fig. 117. 

Peak's Museum, No. 7787. 

VERMIVORA PEREGRIJy^. — Sw Aiysot<. 

Sylvia peregrina, Bonap. Synop. p. 87. — Sylvicola (Vermivora) peregrina, 
North. ZooL ii. p. 185. 

This plain, little bird has liitherto remained unknown. I first found 
it on the banks of Cumberland River, in the state of Tennessee, and 
suppose it to be rare, having since met witli only two individuals of 
tlie same species. It was hunting nimbly among the young leaves, 
and, like all tlie rest of the family of worm-eaters, to which, by its bill, 
it evidently belongs, seemed to partake a good deal of the habits of 
the Titmouse. Its notes were few and v/eak ; and its stomach, on 
dissection, contained small green caterpillars, and a few winged 
insects. 

As this species is so very rare in the United States, it is most 
probably a native of a more southerly climate, where it may be 
equally numerous with any of the rest of its genus. The small Ceru- 
lean Warbler, (Fig. 81,) which, in Pennsylvania, and almost all over 
the Atlantic states, is extremely rare, I found the most numerous of 
its tribe in Tennessee and West Florida ; and the Carolina Wren, 
(Fig. 51,) which is also scarce to the northward of Maryland, is abun- 
dant through tlie whole extent of country from Pittsburgh to New 
Orleans. 

Particular species of birds, like different nations of men, have their 
congenial climes and favorite countries ; but wanderers are common 
to both ; some in search of better fare, some of adventures, otliers led 
by curiosity, and many driven by storms and accident. 

The Tennessee Warbler is four inches and three quarters long, and 
eight inches in extent ; the back, rump, and tail-coverts are of a rich 
yellow olive ; lesser Aving-coverts, the same ; wings, deep dusky, 
edged broadly with yellow olive; tail, forked, olive, relieved with 
dusky ; cheeks and upper part of the head, inclining to light bluish, 
and tinged with olive ; line from the nostrils over the eye, pale yellow, 
fading into white ; throat and breast, pale cream color ; belly and 
vent, white ; legs, purplish brown ; bill, pointed, and thicker at the 
base than those of the Sylvia genus generally are ; upper mandible, 
dark dusky ; lower, somewhat paler ; eye, hazel. 

The female differs little, in the color of lier plumage, from the male ; 
the yellow line over the eye is more obscure, and the olive not of so 
rich a tint 



244 KENTUCKY WARBLER. 

KENTUCKY WARBLER. — SYLVIA FORMOSA. — Fig. 118. 

Peak's Museum, No. 7786. 

SYLVICOLAl F0iU/0&/3.— Jardine. 

S3'lvia formosa, Bonap. Si/nop. p. 84. — The Kentucky Warbler, Aud. pi. 38, male 
and female} Orn. Biog. i. p. 196. 

This new and beautiful species inhabits the country -whose name 
it bears. It is also found generally in all the intermediate tracts 
between Nashville and New Orleans, and below that as far as the 
Balize, or mouths of the INIississippi ; where I heard it several times 
tvrittering among- the high, rank grass and low bushes of those solitary 
and desolate looking morasses. " In Kentucky and Tennessee it is 
particularly numerous, frequenting low, damp woods, and builds its 
nest in tlie middle of a thick tuft of rank grass, sometimes in the fork 
of a low bush, and sometimes on the ground ; in all of which situations 
I have found it. The materials are loose, dry grass, mixed with the 
light pitli of weeds, and lined with hair. The female lays four, and 
sometimes six eggs, pure white, sprinkled with specks of reddish. I 
observed her sitting early in May. This species is seldom seen 
among the high branches ; but loves to frequent low bushes and cane 
swamps, and is an active, sprightly bird. Its notes are loud, and in 
threes, resembling hveedle, hveecUe, hveedle. It appears in Kentucky 
from the south about the middle of April, and leaves the territory of 
New Orleans on the approach of cold weather ; at least I was assured 
tJiat it does not remain there during the winter. It appeared to me to 
be a restless, fighting species ; almost always engaged in pursuing 
some of its fellows ; though this might have been occasioned by its 
numbers, and the particular season of spring, when love and jealousy 
rage with violence in the breasts of the feathered tenants of the grove ; 
who experience all the ardency of those passions no less than their 
lord and sovereign, man. 

The Kentucky Warbler is five inches and a half long, and eight 
inches in extent ; the upper parts are an olive green ; line over tlie 
eye, and partly under it, and whole lower parts, rich brilliant yellow ; 
head, slightly crested, the crown, deep black, towards the hind part 
spotted with light ash ; lores, and spot curv'ing down the neck, 
also black ; tail, nearly even at the end, and of a rich olive green ; 
interior vanes of that and the wings, dusky ; legs, an almost trans- 
parent, pale flesh color. 

The female wants the black under the eye, and the greater part of 
that on the crown, having those parts yellowish. This bird is very 
abundant in the moist woods along tlie Tennessee and Cumberland 
Rivers. 



PRAIRIE WARBLER. 245 

PRAIRIE WARBLER. — SYLVIA MINUTA. — Fig. 119. 

Peale's Muse/im, No. 7784. 
SYLVICOLA 1 DISCOLOR.— J AHD1NE.* 
Sylvia discolor^ Vieill. pi. 98, (auet. Bonap.) — Bonap. Sijnop. p. 82. 

This pretty little species I first discovered in that singular tract 
of country in Kentucky, commonly called the Barrens. 1 shot several 
afterwards in the open woods of the Chactaw nation, where they were 
more numerous. They seem to prefer these open plains and thinly- 
wooded tracts ; and have this singularity in their manners, that they 
are not easily alarmed ; and search among the leaves the most leisurely 
of any of the tribe I have yet met with ; seeming to examine every 
blade of grass and every leaf; uttering at short intervals a feeble 
chirr. I have observed one of these birds to sit on the lower branch 
of a tree for half an hour at a time, and allow me to come up nearly to the 
f )0t of the tree, without seeming to be in the least disturbed, or to dis- 
continue the regularity of its occasional note. In activity it is the re- 
verse of the preceding species ; and is rather a scarce bird in the 
countries where I found it. Its food consists principally of small 
caterpillars and winged insects. 

The Prairie Warbler is four inches and a half long, and six inches 
and a half in extent; the upper parts are olive, spotted on the back 
with reddish chestnut ; from the nostril over and under the eye, yellow ; 
lores, black ; a broad streak of black also passes beneath the yellow 
under the eye ; small pointed spots of black reach from a little below 
t!iat along the side of the neck and under the wings ; throat, breast, 
and belly, rich yellow ; vent, cream colored, tinged with yellow ; wings, 
dark dusky olive ; primaries and greater coverts, edged and tipped 
with pale yellow ; second row of coverts, wholly yellow ; lesser, olive ; 
tail, deep brownish black, ligher on the edges ; the three exterior 
feathers, broadly spotted with white. 

The female is destitute of the black mark under the eye ; has a 
few slight touches of blackish along the sides of the neck ; and some 
faint shades of brownish red on the back. 

The nest of this species is of very neat and delicate workman- 
ship, being pensile, and generally hung on the fork of a low bush or 
thicket; it is formed outwardly of green moss, intermixed with rotten 
bits of wood and caterpillar's silk ; the inside is lined with extremely 
fine fibres of grape-vine bark ; and the whole would scarcely weigh a 
quarter of an ounce. The eggs are white, with a few brown spots at 
the great end. These birds are migratory, departing for the south in 
October. 

* Bonaparte is of opinion that this is the same with Vieillot's Sylvia discolor. I 
have not had an opportunity of examining it. — Ed. 

21* 



246 CAROLINA PARROT. 



CAROLINA PARROT. — PSITTACUS CAROLINENSIS. — 
Fig. 120. 

Linn. Syst. HI.— Catesb. I U. — Lath. I 221.—Arct. Zool. 242, No. 132. Ibid. 
133. — Peak's Museum, No. 762. 

COMURUS CAROLIJ^EJ^SIS. — Kvui..* 

Conurus Carolinensis, Kuhl. consp. psitt. Nov. act. Ceas. Leop. torn. x. p. 4. 23. — 
Psittacus Carolinensis, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 41. 

Of one hundred and sixty-eight kinds of Parrots enumerated by- 
European writers as inhabiting the various regions of the globe, this 
is the only species found native within the territory of the United 
States. The vast and luxuriant tracts lying within the torrid zone 
seem to be the favorite residence of those noisy, numerous, and richly- 
plumaged tribes. The Count de Buffon has, indeed, circumscribed 
the whole genus of Parrots to a space not extending more than twenty- 
three degrees on each side of the equator; but later discoveries have 
shown this statement to be incorrect, as these birds have been found 
on our continent as far south as the Straits of Magellan, and even on 
tlie remote shores of Van Diemen's Land, in Terra Australasia. The 
species now under consideration is also known to inhabit the interior 
of Louisiana, and the shores of the Mississippi and Ohio, and their 
tributary waters, even beyond the Illinois River, to the neighborhood 
of Lake Michigan, in lat. 42 deg. north ; and, contrary to the gen- 
erally received opinion, is chiefly resident in all these places. East- 
ward, however, of the great range of the Alleghany, it is seldom seen 
farther north than the state of Maryland, though straggling parties 
have been occasionally observed among the valleys of the Juniata ; 

* In all countries Parrots have been favorites, arising from their playful and do- 
cile manners in domestication, the beauty of their plumag-e, and the nearly solitary 
example of imitating with comparative accuracy the voice and articulation of man. 
In ancient times, the extravagance with which these birds were sought after, either 
as objects of amusement and recreation, or as luxuries for the table, surpasses, if 
possible, the many fashionable maniae of latter da3'S. We find frequent allusions 
to these birds both in the prose and poetical writers, railing- against the expenses 
of price and maintenance, or celebrating their docility, or their love and gratitude 
to their mistress ; and at the height and splendor of the then Mistress of the World, 
tl'.ev were brought forward to the less honorable avocation of conveying praise 
and flattery to the great. At the present period they are much sought after, and a 
" good Parrot" will still bring a high price. 

Intertropical countries are the natural abodes of the Psittacidcp, where they are 
gregarious, and present most conspicuous and noisy attraction, revelling in free or 
grotesque attitudes, among the forest and mountain glades, which, wiUiout these, 
and many other brilliant tenants, would present only a solitude of luxuriant vege- 
tation, it is impossii)Ie for any one who has only seen these birds in a cage or 
small enclosure, to conceive what must be the gorgeous appearance of a flock, 
either in full flight, and performing their various evolutions, under a vertical sun, or 
sporting among the sujierb foliage of a tropical forest : 

In caufly robf^s of innny-roIoreH patclies, 

Thp Piirrots swrnip like blossoms from thf> trees, 

While thi'ir liarsh voices undeceived the ear. Ed. 



CAROLINA PARROT. 247 

and, according to some, even twenty-five miles to the north-west of 
Albany, in the state of New York.*' But sucli accidental visits fur- 
nish no certain criterion by which to judge of their usual extent of 
range, — those aerial voyagers, as well as others who navigate the 
deep, being subject to be cast away, by the violence of the elements, on 
distant shores and unknown countries. 

From these circumstances of the northern residence of this species, 
we might be justified in concluding it to be a very hardy bird, more 
capable of sustaining cold than nine tenths of its tribe ; and so I be- 
lieve it is, — having myself seen them, in the month of February, 
along the banks of the Ohio, in a snow storm, flying about like Pigeons, 
and in full cry. 

The preference, however, which this bird gives to the western coun- 
tries, lying in the same parallel of latitude with those eastward of the 
Alleghany Mountains, which it rarely or never visits, is worthy of re- 
mark; and has been adduced, by different writers, as a proof of the 
superior mildness of climate in the former to that of the latter. But 
there are other reasons for this partiality equally powerful, though 
hitherto overlooked ; namely, certain peculiar features of country to 
which these birds are particularly and strongly attached ; these are, 
low, rich, alluvial bottoms, along the borders of creeks, covered with 
a gigantic growth of sycamore-trees, or button wood ; deep, and al- 
most impenetrable swamps, where the vast and towering cypress lifts 
its still more majestic head ; and those singular salines, or, as they are 
usually called, licks, so generally interspersed over that country, and 
which are regularly and eagerly visited by the Paroquets. A still 
greater inducement is the superior abundance of their favorite fruits. 
That food which the Paroquet prefers to all others, is the seeds of the 
cockle bur, a plant rarely found in the lower parts of Pennsylvania or 
New York; but Avhich unfortunately grows in too great abundance 
along the shores of the Ohio and Mississippi ; so much so as to render 
the wool of those sheep that pasture where it most abounds, scarcely 
worth the cleaning, covering them with one solid mass of burs, 
wrought up and embedded into the fleece, to the great annoyance of 
this valuable animal. The seeds of the cypress-tree and hackberry, 
as well as beech nuts, are also great favorites with these birds ; the 
two former of which are not commonly found in Pennsylvania, and 
the latter by no means so general or so productive. Here, then, are 
several powerful reasons, more dependent on soil than climate, for 
the preference given by these birds to the luxuriant regions of the 
west. Pennsylvania, indeed, and also Maryland, abound with excel- 
lent apple orchards, on the ripe fruit of which the Paroquets occasion- 
ally feed. But I have my doubts whether their depredations in the 
orchard be not as much the result of wanton play and mischief, as re- 
gard for the seeds of the fruit, which they are supposed to be in pursuit 
of. I have known a flock of these birds alight on an apple-tree, and 
have myself seen them twist oflTthe fruit, one by one, strewing it in every 
direction around the tree, without observing that any of the depreda- 
tors descended to pick them up. To a Paroquet, which I wounded 
and kept for some considerable time, I very often offered apples, which 

* Barton's Fragments, &c. p. 6. lutroduction. 



248 CAROLINA PARROT. 

it uniformly rejected ; but burs or beech nuts, never. To another very 
beautiful one, which I brought from New Orleans, and which is now 
sitting in the room beside me, I have frequently offered this fruit, and 
also the seeds separately, which I never knew it to taste. Their local 
attachments, also, prove that food, more than climate, determines their 
choice of country. For even in the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and 
the Mississippi Territory, unless in the neighborhood of such places as 
have been described, it is rare to see tliem. The inhabitants of Lex- 
ington, as many of them assured me, scarcely ever observe them in 
that quarter. In passing from that place to Nashville, a distance of 
two hundred miles, I neither heard nor saw any, but at a place called 
Madison's Lick. In passing on, I next met with them on the banks 
and rich flats of the Tennessee River: after this, I saw no more till I 
reached Bayou St. Pierre, a distance of several hundred miles ; from 
(ill which circumstances, I think we cannot, from the residences of 
these birds, establish with propriety any correct standard by which to 
judge of the comparative temperatures of different climates. 

In descending the River Ohio, by myself, in the month of February, 
I met with the first flock of Paroquets at the mouth of the Little 
Scioto. I had been informed, by an old and respectable inhabitant of 
Marietta, that they were sometimes, though rarely, seen there. I ob- 
served flocks of tliem, afterwards, at the mouth of the Great and Little 
Miami, and in the neighborhood of numerous creeks that discharge 
themselves into the Ohio. At Big Bone Lick, thirty miles above the 
mouth of Kentucky River, I saw them in great numbers. They came 
screaming through the woods in the morning, about an hour after sun- 
rise, to drink the salt water, of which they, as well as the Pigeons, 
are remarkably fond. When they alighted on the ground, it appeared 
at a distance as if covered with a carpet of the richest green, orange, 
and yellow : they afterwards settled, in one body, on a neighboring 
tr^e, Avhich stood detached from any other, covering almost every twig 
of it, and the sun, shining strongly on their gay and glossy plumage, 
produced a very beautiful and splendid appearance. Here I had an 
opportunity of observing some very particular traits of their charac- 
ter : Having shot down a number, some of which were only wounded, 
the whole flock swept repeatedly around their prostrate companions, 
and again settled on a low tree, within twenty yards of the spot where 
I stood. At each successive discharge, though showers of them fell, 
yet the affection of the survivors seemed rather to increase ; for, after 
a few circuits around the place, they again alighted near me, looking 
down on their slaughtered companions with such manifest symptoms 
of sympathy and concern, as entirely disarmed me. I could not but 
take notice of the remarkable contrast between their elegant manner 
of flight, and tbeir lame and crawling gait among the branches. They 
fly very much like the Wild Pigeon, in close, compact bodies, and with 
great rapidity, making a loud and outrageous screaming, not unlike 
that of the Red-headed Woodpecker. Their flight is sometimes in a 
direct line ; but most usually circuitous, making a great variety of el- 
egant and easy serpentine meanders, as if for pleasure. They are 
particularly attached to the large sycamores, in the hollow of the 
trunks and branches of which they generally roost, thirty or forty, and 
sometimes more, entering at the same hole. Here they cling close to 



CAROLINA PARROT. 249 

the sides of the tree, holding fast by the claws and also by the bills. 
They appear to be fond of sleep, and often retire to their holes during 
the day, probably to take their regular siesta. They are extremely 
sociable, and fond of each otlier, often scratching each other's heads 
and necks, and always, at night, nestling as close as possible to each 
other, preferring, at that time, a perpendicular position, supported by 
their bill and claws. In the fall, when their favorite cockle burs are 
ripe, they swarm along the coast or high grounds of the Mississippi, 
above New Orleans, for a great extent. At such times, they are killed 
and eaten by many of the inhabitants ; though, I confess, I think their 
flesh very indifferent. I have several times dined on it from neces- 
sity, in the woods; but found it merely passable, with all the sauce 
of a keen appetite to recommend it. 

A very general opinion prevails that the brains and intestines of 
the Carolina Paroquet are a sure and fatal poison to cats. 1 had de- 
termined, when at Big Bone, to put this to the test of experiment ; and 
for that purpose collected the brains and bowels of more than a dozen 
of tliem. But after close search, Mistress Puss was not to be found, 
being engaged, perhaps, on more agreeable business. I left the 
medicine with Mr. Colquhoun's agent, to administer it at the first op- 
portunity, and write me the result ; but I have never yet heard from 
him. A respectable lady near tlie town of Natchez, and on whose 
word I can rely, assured me, that she herself had made the experi- 
ment, and that, whatever might be the cause, the cat had actually died 
either on that or the succeeding day. A French planter near Bayou 
Fourche pretended to account to me for this effect by positively assert- 
ing that the seeds of the cockle burs, on which the Paroquets so 
eagerly feed, were deleterious to cats ; and thus their death was pro- 
duced by eating the intestines of the bird. These matters might 
easily have been ascertained on the spot, which, however, a combina- 
tion of trifling circumstances prevented me from doing. I several 
times carried a dose of the first description in my pocket till it became 
insufferable, without meeting with a suitable patient on whom, like 
other professional gentlemen, I might conveniently make a fair experi- 
ment. 

I was equally unsuccessful in my endeavors to discover the time 
of incubation or manner of building among these birds. All agreed 
that they breed in hollow trees ; and several affirmed to me that they 
had seen their nests. Some said they carried in no materials ; others, 
that they did. Some made the eggs white ; others, speckled. One 
man assured me that he cut down a large beech-tree, which was hol- 
low, and in which he found the broken fragments of upwards of twenty 
Paroquets' eggs, which were of a greenish yellow color. Tlie nests, 
though destroyed in their texture by the falling of the tree, appeared, 
he said, to be formed of small twigs glued to each other, and to the 
side of the tree, in the manner of the Chimney Swallow. He added, 
that if it were the proper season, he could point out to me the weed 
from which they procured the gluey matter. From all tliese contra- 
dictory accounts nothing certain can be deduced, except that they 
build in companies, in hollow trees. That they commence incubation 
late in summer, or very early in spring, I think highly probable, from 
the numerous dissections I made in the months of March, April, May, 



250 CAROLINA PARROT. 

and June ; and the great variety which I found in the color of the 
plumage of the head and neck of both sexes, during the two former 
of these months, convinces me that the young birds do not receive 
tlieir full colors until the early part of the succeeding summer.* 

While Parrots and Paroquets, from foreign countries, abound in 
almost every street of our large cities, and become such great favor- 
ites, no attention seems to have been paid to our own, which, in 
elegance of figure, and beauty of plumage, is certainly superior to 
many of them. It wants, indeed, that disposition for perpetual 
screaming and chattering that renders some of the former pests, not 
only to their keepers, but to the whole neighborhood in which they 
reside. It is alike docile and sociable ; soon becomes perfectly 
familiar ; and, until equal pains be taken in its instruction, it is unfair 
to conclude it incapable of equal improvement in the language of man. 

As so little has hitherto been known of the disposition and manners 
of this species, the reader will not, I hope, be displeased at my detail- 
ing some of these, in the history of a particular favorite, my sole 
companion in many a lonesome day's march, and of which tlie figure 
in the plate is a faithful resemblance. 

Anxious to try the effects of education on one of those which I 
procured at Big Bone Lick, and which was but slightly wounded in 
tlie wing, I fixed up a place for it in the stern of my boat, and presented 
it with some cockle burs, w^hich it freely fed on in less than an hour 
after being on board. The intermediate time between eating and 
sleeping was occupied in gnawing the sticks that formed its place of 
confinement, in order to make a practicable breach ; which it repeatedly 
effected. When I abandoned the river, and travelled by land, I 
wrapped it up closely in a silk handkerchief, tying it tightly around, 
and carried it in my pocket. When I stopped for refreshment, 1 
unbound my prisoner, and gave it its allowance, which it generally 
despatched with great dexterity, unhusking tlie seeds from the bur 
in a twinkling ; in doing which, it always employed its left foot to 
hold the bur, as did several others that I kept for some time. I began 
to think that this might be peculiar to the whole tribe, and that the 
whole were, if I may use the expression, left-footed ; but, by shooting 
a number afterwards while engaged in eating mulberries, I found 
sometimes the left, sometimes the right, foot stained with the fruit, the 
other always clean ; from which, and the constant practice of those I 
kept, it appears, that, like the human species in the use of their hands, 
they do not prefer one or the other indiscriminately, but are either 
left or right-footed. But to return to my prisoner : In recommitting it 

* Mr. Audubon's informalion on their manner of breeding is as follows: — 
" Their nest, or the place in which they deposit their e^^g-s, is simply the bottom of 
such cavities in trees as those to wliich they usually retire at night. Many females 
deposit their egffs together. I am of opinion that the number of eggs which each 
individual lays is two, altiiough I have not been able absolutely to assure myself 
of this. They are nearly round, of a rich greenish white. The young are at first 
covered with soft down, such as is seen on young Owls." 

It may be remarked that most of the Parrots, whose nidification we are 
acquainted with, build in hollow trees, or holed banks. Few make a nest for 
themselves, but lay the eggs on the bare wood or earth ; and when the nest is 
built outward, as by other birds, it is of a slight and loose structure. The eggs are 
always white. — Ed. 



CAROLINA PARROT. 251 

to " durance vile," we generally liad a quarrel ; during which it fre- 
quently paid me in kind for tJie wound I liad inflicted, and for 
depriving it of liberty, by cutting and almost disabling several of my 
fingers with its sharp and powerful bill. Tlie path tlirough the wilder- 
ness between Nashville and Natchez is in some places bad beyond 
description. There are dangerous creeks to swim, miles of morass to 
struggle through, rendered almost as gloomy as night by a prodigious 
growtli of timber, and an underwood of canes and other evergreens ; 
while the descent into these sluggish streams is often ten or fifteen 
feet perpendicular, into a bed of deep clay. In some of the worst 
of tliese places, where I had, as it were, to fight my way through, 
tlie Paroquet frequently escaped from my pocket, obliging me to dis- 
mount and pursue it through the worst of the morass before I 
could regain it. On these occasions, I was several times tempted to 
abandon it ; but 1 persisted in bringing it along. When at night I 
encamped in the woods, I placed it on the baggage beside me, where 
it usually sat with great composure, dozing and gazing at the fire till 
morning. In this manner I carried it upwards of a thousand miles, in 
my pocket, where it was exposed all day to the jolting of the horse, 
but regularly liberated at meal times and in the evening, at which it 
always expressed great satisfaction. In passing through the Chick- 
asaw and Chactaw nations, the Indians, wherever 1 stopped to feed, 
collected around me, men, women, and children, laughing, and seeming 
wonderfully amused with the novelty of my companion. The Chick- 
asaws called it in their language " Kelinkij ; " but when they heard 
me call it Poll, they soon repeated the name ; and, Avherever I chanced 
to stop among these people, we soon became familiar with each other 
through the medium of Poll. On arriving at Mr. Dunbar's, below 
Natchez, I procured a cage, and placed it under the piazza, where, 
by its call, it soon attracted the passing flocks ; such is the attach- 
ment they have for each other. Numerous parties frequently alighted 
on the trees immediately above, keeping up a constant conversation 
with the prisoner. One of these I wounded slightly in the wing, and 
the pleasure Poll expressed on meeting with this new companion was 
really amusing. She crept close up to it as it hung on the side of the 
cage ; chattered to it in a low tone of voice, as if sympathizing in its 
misfortune ; scratched about its head and neck with her bill ; and 
both at night nestled as close as possible to each other, sometimes 
Poll's head being thrust among the plumage of tlie other. On the 
death of this companion, she appeared restless and inconsolable for 
several days. On reaching Ncav Orleans, I placed a looking-glass 
beside the place Avhere she usually sat, and the instant she perceived 
her image, all her former fondness seemed to return, so that she could 
scarcely absent herself from it a moment. It was evident that she 
was completely deceived. Always when evening drew on, and often 
during the day, she laid her head close to that of the image in the 
glass, and began to doze with great composure and satisfaction. In 
tliis short space she had learned to know her name ; to answer, and 
come when called on; to climb up my clothes, sit on my shoulder, and 
eat from my mouth. I took her with me to sea, determined to perse- 
vere in her education ; but, destined to another fate, poor Poll, having 
one morning, about day break, wrought her way tlirough tlie cage, 



2o"2 CAROLINA PARROT. 

while I was asleep, instantly flew overboard, and perished in the Gulf 
of Mexico. 

The Carolina or Illinois Parrot (for it has been described under 
both these appellations) is thirteen inches long, and twenty-one in 
extent ; forehead and cheeks, orange red ; beyond this, for an inch and 
a half, down and round the neck, a rich and pure yellow ; shoulder 
and bend of the wing, also edged with rich orange red. The general 
color of the rest of the plumage is a bright yellowish, silky green, witli 
light blue reflections, lightest and most diluted with yellow below ; 
greater wing-coverts and roots of the primaries, yellow, slightly tinged 
with green; interior webs of the primaries, deep dusky purple, almost 
black ; exterior ones, bluish green ; tail, long, cuneiform, consisting 
of twelve feathers, the exterior one only half the length, the others 
increasing to the middle ones, which are streaked along the middle 
witli light blue ; shafts of all the larger feathers, and of most part of the 
green plumage, black ; knees and vent, orange yellow ; feet, a pale, 
whitish flesh color ; claws, black ; bill, white, or slightly tinged with 
pale cream ; iris of the eye, hazel ; round the eye is a small space 
without feathers, covered with a whitish skin ; nostrils placed in an 
elevated membrane at the base of the bill, and covered with feathers ; 
chin, wholly bare of feathers, but concealed by those descending on 
each side ; from each side of the palate hangs a lobe or skin of a 
blackish color; tongue, thick and fleshy; inside of the upper mandible 
near the point, grooved exactly like a file, that it may hold with more 
security. 

The female differs very little in her colors and markings from tlie 
male. After examining numerous specimens, the following appear to 
be tlie principal differences: — The yellow on the neck of the female 
does not descend quite so far ; the interior vanes of the primaries are 
brownish, instead of black, and the orange red on tlie bend and edges 
of the wing is considerably narrower ; in other respects, tlie colors 
and markings are nearly the same. 

The young birds of the preceding year, of both sexes, are generally 
destitute of the yellow on the head and neck, until about the begin- 
ning or middle of March, having those parts wholly green, except the 
front and cheeks, M'hicli are orange red in them, as in the full-grown 
birds. Towards tlie middle of March, the yellow begins to appear, in 
detached feathers, interspersed among the green, varying in different 
individuals. In some which I killed about the last of tiiat month, only 
a few green feathers remained among the yellow, and these were fast 
assuming the yellow tint ; for the color changes without change of 
plumage. A number of these birds, in all their grades of progressive 
change from green to yellow, have been deposited in Mr. Peale's 
museum. 

What is called by Europeans the Illinois Parrot, [Psittacits pertinax,) 
is evidently the young bird in its iuiperfect colors. Whether the pres- 
ent species be found as far south as Brazil, as tliese writers pretend, I 
am unable to say ; but, from the great extent of country in which 
I have myself killed and examined these birds, I am satisfied that the 
present species, now described, is the only one inliabiting Uie United 
States. 

Since the foregoing was written, I have had an opportunity, by tlie 



CANADA FLYCATCHER. 253 

death of a tame Carolina Paroquet, to ascertain the fact of the poison- 
ous effects of their head and intestines on cats. Having shut up a cat 
and her two kittens, the latter only a few days old, in a room with the 
head, neck, and whole intestines of the Parocjuet, I found, on the next 
moriiing, the whole eaten, except a small part of the bill. The cat 
exhibited no symptom of sickness ; and, at this moment, three days 
after the experiment has been made, she and her kittens are in their 
usual health. Still, however, the effect might have been different, had 
the daily food of the bird been cockle burs, instead of Indian corn. 



CANADA FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA CANADENSIS.— 
Fig. 121. 

Lynn. Syst. 324. — Arct. Znol. p. 338, No. 273. — Lath. ii. 3M,. — 
Peaie's Museum, No. 6969. 

SETOPHJlGJi CAJ^ADKNSIS. — Swainson.* 

Sylvia pardalina, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 79. 

This is a solitary, and, in the lower parts of Pennsylvania, rather a 
rare species ; being more numerous in the interior, particularly near 
the mountains, where the only two I ever met with were shot. They 
are silent birds, as far as I could observe, and were busily darting 
among the branches after insects. From the specific name given 
them, it is probable that they are more plenty in Canada than in the 
United States ; where it is doubtful whether they be not mere passen- 
gers in spring and autumn. 

This species is four inches and a half long, and eight in extent ; 
front, black ; crown, dappled with small streaks of gray and spots of 
black ; line from the nostril to and around the eye, yellow ; below the 
eye, a streak or spot of black, descending along the sides of the throat, 
which, as well as the breast and belly, is brilliant yellow, the breast 

* Mr. Swainson, in a note to the Northern Zooloon/, has hinted his suspicion that 
this bird and Muscicapa Bonapartii of Audubon are the same. As far as we can 
judge from the two plates, there does not seem ajiy resemblance. Mr. Swainson 
adds, "As regards the generic name (of Setophaga Bonapartii,) we consider the 
whole structure of the bird as obviously intermediate between the Sylvicolce and 
the typical SetophagcB, but more closely allied to the latter than the former." For 
the present, we shall place the two following species in Setophaga. but suspect that 
this intermediate form will hereafter rank m the value of a sub-genus.* To this, 
eilso, may be referred the Muscicapa Selhii of Audubon, which seems to approach 
nearer Setophaga in the more flattened representation of the bill and stronger bris- 
tles. Mr. Audubon has only met with it three limes in Louisiana. The upper parts 
are of a dark olive color ; the whole luider parts, with a streak over each eye, rich 
yellow. The length is about five inches and a half. It was very active in pursuit 
of flies, and the snapping of the bill, w^hen seizing them, was distinctly heard at 
some distajice. — Ed. 

• Tliev are all furniflbed with rictorial bristlee, but the bill Is not so mnch depresBedi 
The habits are those of StUrphaga. 



254 HOODED FLYCATCHER. 

being marked with a broad, rounding band of black, composed of 
large, irregular streaks ; back, wings, and tail, cinereous brown ; vent, 
white ; upper mandible, dusky ; lower, flesh colored ; legs and feet, 
tlie same ; eye, hazel. 

Never having met with the female of this bird, I am unable, at 
present, to say in what its colors diflfer from those of the male. 



HOODED FLYCATCHER. — MUSCICAPA CUCULLATA.— 
Fig. 122. 

Le gobe-mouche citrin. Buff. [v. 538, PL enl. 666. — Hooded Warbler. Arct. Zool. 
p. 400, No. 287. — Lath. ii. 462. — Catesb. i. 60. — Mitred Warbler, Turton, i. 
60L — Hooded Warbler, ibid. — Peak's Museum, No. 7062. 

SETOPHAOA MITRJiTA.—Svi ».i^soy. 

Sylvia mitrata, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 79. 

Why tliose two judicious naturalists, Pennant and Latham, should 
have arranged this bird with the Warblers, is to me unaccountable, as 
few of the MuscicapcB are more distinctly marked than the species now 
before us. The bill is broad at the base, where it is beset with bris- 
tles ; the upper mandible, notched, and slightly overhanging at tlie 
tip ; and the manners of the bird, in every respect, those of a Flycatcher. 
This species is seldom seen in Pennsylvania and the Northern States, 
but through the whole extent of country south of Maryland, from the 
Atlantic to the Mississippi, is very abundant. It is, however, most' 
partial to low situations, where there is plenty of tliick underwood ; 
abounds among the canes in the state of Tennessee, and in the Mis- 
sissippi Territoiy ; and seems perpetually in pursuit of winged insects ; 
now and then uttering three loud, not unmusical, and very lively notes, 
resembling tivee, twee, twdchie, while engaged in the chase. Like al- 
most all its tribe, it is full of spirit, and exceedingly active. It builds 
a very neat and compact nest, generally in the fork of a small bush ; 
fornis it outwardly of moss and flax, or broken hemp, and lines it witli 
hair, and sometimes feathers ; the eggs are five, of a grayish white, 
with red spots toAvards the great end. In all parts of tjie United 
States where it inhabits, it is a bird of passage. At Savannah, I met 
with it about the 20th of March ; so that it probably retires to the 
West India Islands, and perhaps Mexico, during winter. I also 
lieard this bird, among the rank reeds and rushes, within a few miles 
of the mouth of the Mississippi. It has been sometimes seen in the 
neighborhood of Philadelphia, but rarely ; and, on such occasions, has 
all the mute timidity of a stranger at a distance from home. 

This species is five inches and a half long, and eight in extent ; 
forehead, cheeks, and chin, yellow, surrounded with a hood of black 
that covers the crown, hind head, and part of the neck, and descends, 
rounding, over tlie breast ; all tlie rest of the lower parts are rich yel- 



GREEN BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER. 255 

low ; upper pai-ts of the wings, tlie tail, and back, yellow olive ; inte- 
rior vanes, and tips of the wing and tail, dusky ; bill, black ; legs, 
flesh colored ; inner webs of the three exterior tail-feathers, white for 
half their length from the tips; the next, slightly touched with white; 
the tail, slightly forked, and exteriorly edged with rich, yellow olive. 

The female has the throat and breast yellow, slightly tinged with 
blackish ; the black does not reach so far down the upper part of tlie 
neck, and is not of so deep a tint. In the other parts of her plumage, 
she exactly resembles the male. I have found some females that had 
little or no black on the head or neck above, but these I took to be 
young birds, not yet arrived at their full tints. 



GREEN BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER.— MUSCICAPA 
PUSILLA. — Fig. 123. 

Peak's Museum, No. 7785. 

SET0PHAOA7 WILSOJ^JL — J ARDiyE* 

Sylvia Wilsonii, Bonap. Synop. p. 8G. — Nomenclature, No. 127. 

This neat and active little species I have never met with in the 
works of any European naturalist. It is an inhabitant of the swamps 
of the Southern States, and has been several times seen in the lower 
parts of the states of New Jersey and Delaware. Amidst almost 
unapproachable thickets of deep morasses it commonly spends its time 
during summer, and has a sharp, squeaking note, no wise musical. It 
leaves the Southern States early in October. 

This species is four inches and a half long, and six and a half in 
extent ; front line over the eye, and whole loAver parts, yellow, brightest 
over the eye, and dullest on the cheeks, belly, and vent, where it is 
tinged with olive ; upper parts, olive green ; wings and tail, dusky 
brown, the former very short ; legs and bill, flesh colored ; crown, 
covered with a patch of deep black ; iris of the eye, hazel. 

The female is without the black crown, having that part of a dull 
yellow olive, and is frequently mistaken for a distinct species. From 
her great resemblance, however, in other respects, to the male, now 
first figured, she cannot hereafter be mistaken. 

* The Prince of Musignano has never seen this species, but was of opinion that 
it would prove a Si/lvia ; and (he specific name being- preoccupied, he chose that 
of its discoverer. 1 have retained his specific name, though the reason of the chang^e 
will not now be available. The services of Wilson, however, can scarcely be 
overpaid, and the reputation of no one is here implicated. — Ed. 



256 PINNATED GROUSE. 



PINNATED GROUSE. — TETRAO CUPIDO. — Fig. 124. 

Linn. Syst. i. p. 274-^. — Lath. ii. p. 740. — Arct. Zool. — La Gelinote huppee 
d'Amerique, Briss. Orn. i. p. 212, 10. — Urogalus minor, fuscus cervice, plumis 
alas imitantibus donata, Catesb. Car. App.p\. 1. — Tetrao lagogus, the Mountain 
Cock, or Grouse, Bartram, p. 290. — Heath-Hen, Prairie Hen, Barren Hen. — 
Peale^s Museum, No. 4700, male ; 4701, female. 

TE TILi CUPID 0. — Li nt^^us. 

Attag-an Americana, Brisson, i. p. 59. — Pinnated Healhcock, Bonasa cupido, 
Steph. Sh. Cont. xi. p. 299. — Tetrao cupido, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 126. 

Before I enter on a detail of the observations which I have myself 
personally made on this singular species, I shall lay before the reader 
a comprehensive and very circumstantial memoir on the subject, com- 
municated to me by the writer, Dr. Samuel L. Mitchill, of New York, 
whose exertions, both in his public and private capacity, in behalf of 
science, and in elucidating the natural history of his country, are well 
known, and highly honorable to his distinguished situation and abilities. 
That peculiar tract, generally known by the name of the Brushy 
Plains of Long Island, having been, for time immemorial, the resort 
of the bird now before us, some account of this particular range of 
country seemed necessarily connected with tlie subject, and has, ac- 
cordingly, been obligingly attended to by the learned professor. 

''Xew York, Sept. 19, 1810. 

"Dear Sir, — It gives me much pleasure to reply to your letter of 
the 12th instant, asking of me information concerning the Grouse of 
Long Island. 

" The birds which are known there emphatically by the name of 
Grouse, inhabit chiefly the forest range. Tliis district of the island 
may be estimated as being between forty and fifty miles in length, 
extending from Bethphage, in Queen's County, to the neighborhood 
of the Court-House, in Suffolk. Its breadth is not more than six or 
seven. For, although the island is bounded by the Sound, separating 
it from Connecticut on the north, and by the Atlantic Ocean on the 
south, there is a margin of several miles, on each side, in the actual 
possession of human beings. 

" The region in which these birds reside, lies mostly within the 
towns of Oysterbay, Huntington, Islip, Smithtown, and Brookhaven; 
tliough it would be incorrect to say that they were not to be met with 
sometimes in Riverhead and Southampton. Their territory has been 
defined by some sportsmen, as situated between Hampstead Plain on 
tlie West, and Shinnecock Plain on the east 

" The more popular name for them is Heath-Hens. By this they 
are designated in the act of our Legislature for tlie preservation of 
them and of other game. I M-ell remember the passing of this law. 
The bill was introduced by Cornelius J. Bogert, Esq., a member of the 
Assembly from the city of New York. It was in tlie month of Fetv- 



PINNATED GROUSE. • ^oi 

ruary, 1791, the year when, as a representative from my native county 
of Queens, I sat for the first time in a leo:islature. 

"The statute declares, among other thing-s, that the poison who 
shall kill any Heath-Hen within the counties of Suffolk or Queens, 
between the 1st day of April and the 5th day of Octoher, shall, for 
every such offence, forfeit and pay the sum of two dollars and a half, 
to be recovered, with costs of suit, by any person who shall prosecute 
for the same, before any justice of the peace, in either of tlie said 
counties ; the one half to be paid to the plaintiff, and the other half to 
the overseers of the poor ; and if any Heath-Hen, so killed, shall be 
found in the possession of any person, he shall be deemed guilty of 
the offence, and suffer the penalty. But it is provided that no defend- 
ant shall be convicted, unless the action shall be brought within three 
months after the violation of the law.* 

"The country selected by these exquisite birds requires a more- 
particular description. You already understand it to be the midland 
and interior district of the island. The soil of this island is, generally 
speaking, a sandy or gravelly loam. In the parts less adapted to tillage, 
it is more of an unmixed sand. This is so much the case, that the 
shore of the beaches beaten by the ocean affords a material from 
which glass has been prepared. Siliceous grains and particles pre- 
dominate in the region chosen by the Heath-Hens or Grouse. Here 
there are no rocks, and very few stones of any kind. This sandy 
tract appears to be a dereliction of the ocean, but is, nevertheless, not 
doomed to total sterility. Many thousand acres have been reclaimed 
from the wild state, and rendered very productive to man; and within 
the towns frequented by these birds, there are numerous inhabitants, 
and among them, some of our most wealthy farmers. 

" But within the same limits, there are also tracts of great extent 
where men have no settlements, and others where the population is 
spare and scanty. These are, however, by no means naked deserts : 
they are, on the contrary, covered with trees, shrubs, and smaller plants. 
The trees are mostly pitch-pines of inferior size, and white oaks of a 
small growth. They are of a quality very fit for burning. Thousands 
of cords of both sorts of fire-wood are annually exported from these 
barrens. Vast quantities are occasionally destroyed by the fires which, 
through carelessness or accident, spread far and wide through the 
woods. The city of New York will probably, for ages, derive fuel 
from the Grouse grounds. The land, after having been cleared, yields 
to the cultivator poor crops. Unless, therefore, he can help it by 
manure, the best disposition is to let it grow up to forest again. Ex- 
perience has proved, that, in a term of forty or fifty years, the new 
growth of timber will be fit for the axe. Hence it may be perceived, 
that the reproduction of trees, and the protection they afford to Heath- 

* The doctor has probably forsrotten a circumstance of rather a ludicrous kind, 
that occurred at the passing of th^s law, and which was, not long ago, related to 
me by my friend Mr. Gardiner, of Gardiner's Island, Long Island. The bill was 
entitled, " An Act for the preservation of Heath-Hen, and other game." The 
honest Chairman of the Assembly — no sportsman, I suppose — read the title, "An 
Act for the preservation of Heathen, and other game ! " which seemed to astonish 
the northern members, who could not see the propriety of preserving Indians, or 
any other heathen. 

22* 



258 PINNATED GROUSE. 

Hens, would be perpetual, or, in other words, not circumscribed by 
any calculable time, provided the persecutors of the latter would be 
quiet 

" Beneath these trees grow more dwarfish oaks, overspreading the 
surface, sometimes with here and there a shrub, and sometimes a 
thicket. These latter are from about two to ten feet in heig-ht. Where 
they are the principal product, they are called, in common conversa- 
tion, brush, as the flats on which they grow are termed brushy plains. 
Among this hardy shrubbery may frequently be seen the creeping 
vegetable named the partridgeberry, covering the sand with its lasting 
verdure. In many spots, the plant which produces hurtleberries 
sprouts up among the other natives of the soil. These are the more 
important ; though I ought to inform you, that the hills reaching from 
east to west, and forming the spine of the island, support kalmias, 
hickories, and many other species ; that I have seen azalias and 
andromedas, as I passed through the wilderness ; and that, where there 
is water, cranberries, alders, beeches, maples, and other lovers of 
moisture, take their stations. 

"This region, situated thus between the more thickly inhabited 
strips, or belts, on the north and south sides of the island, is much 
travelled by wagons, and intersected, accordingly, by a great number 
of paths. 

" As to the birds themselves, the information I possess scarcely 
amounts to an entire history. You, who know the difficulty of collecting 
facts, will be the most ready to excuse my deficiencies. The infor- 
mation I give you is such as I rely on. For the purpose of gathering 
the materials, I have repeatedly visited their haunts. I have likewise 
conversed with several men who were brought up at the precincts of 
the Grouse ground, who had been witnesses of their habits and man- 
ners, who were accustomed to shoot them for the market, and who 
have acted as guides to gentlemen Avho go there for sport. 

^^ Bulk. — An adult Grouse, when fat, weighs as much as a barn- 
door fowl of moderate size, or about three pounds avoirdupois. But 
the eagerness of the sportsman is so great, that a large proportion of 
those they kill are but a few months old, and have not attained their 
complete growth. Notwithstanding the protection of the law, it is 
very common to disregard it. The retired nature of the situation fa- 
vors this. It is well understood that an arrangement can be made 
which will blind and silence informers, and that the gun is fired with 
impunity for weeks before the time prescribed in the act. To prevent 
this unfair and unlawful practice, an association was formed a few 
years ago, under the title of the Brush Club, with the express and 
avowed intention of enforcing the game law. Little benefit, however, 
has resulted from its laudable exertions ; and under a conviction that 
it was impossible to keep the poachers aAvay, tlie society declined. 
At present, the statute may be considered as operating very little to- 
wards their preservation. Grouse, especially full-grown ones, are 
becoming less frequent. Their numbers are gradually diminishing, 
and, assailed as they are on all sides, almost without cessation, their 
scarcity may be viewed as foreboding their eventual extermination. 

^^ Price. — Twenty years ago, a brace of Grouse could be bought 
for a dollar. Tliey now cost from three to five dollars. A handsome 



PINNATED GROUSE. ' 259 

pair seldom sells in the New York market now-a-days for less than 
thirty shillings, [three dollars, seventy-five cents,] nor for more than 
forty, [five dollars.] These prices indicate, indeed, the depreciation 
of money and the luxury of eatino-. They prove, at the same time, 
that Grouse are become rare ; and this fact is admitted by every man 
who seeks them, whether for pleasure or for profit. 

'■^Amours. — The season for pairing is in March, and the breeding* 
time is continued through April and May. Then the male Grouse 
distinguishes himself by a peculiar sound. When he utters it, the 
parts about the throat are sensibly inflated and swelled. It may be 
heard on a still morning for three or more miles ; some say they have 
perceived it as far as five or six. This noise is a sort of ventriloquism. 
It does not strike the ear of a bystander with much force, but impresses 
him with the idea, though produced within a few rods of him, of 
a voice a mile or two distant. This note is highly characteristic. 
Though very peculiar, it is termed tooting, from its resemblance to the 
blowing of a conch or horn from a remote quarter. The female makes 
her nest on the ground, in recesses very rarely discovered by men. She 
usually lays from ten to twelve eggs. Their color is of a brownish, 
much resembling those of a Guinea Hen. When hatched, the brood 
is protected by her alone. Surrounded by her young, the mother bird 
exceedingly resembles a domestic Hen and Chickens. She frequently 
leads them to feed in the roads crossing the woods, on the remains of 
maize and oats contained in the dung dropped by the travelling horses. 
In that employment they are often surprised by the passengers. On 
such occasions the dam utters a cry of alarm. The little ones imme- 
diately scamper to the brush ; and while they are skulking into places 
of safety, their anxious parent beguiles the spectator by drooping and 
fluttering her wings, limping along the path, rolling over in the dirt, 
and other pretences of inability to walk or fly. 

" Food. — A favorite article of their diet is the heath-hen plum, or 
partridgeberry before mentioned. They are fond of hurtleberries 
and cranberries. Worms and insects of several kinds are occasion- 
ally found in their crops. But, in the winter, they subsist chiefly on 
acorns, and the buds of trees which have shed their leaves. In their 
stomachs have been sometimes observed the leaves of a plant sup- 
posed to be a winter green; and it is said, when they are much 
pinched, they betake themselves to the buds of the pine. In convenient 
places, they have been known to enter cleared fields, and regale them- 
selves on the leaves of clover ; and old gunners have reported that 
they have been known to trespass upon patches of buckwheat, and 
pick up the grains. 

" Migration. — They are stationary, and never known to quit their 
abode. There are no facts showing in them any disposition to migra- 
tion. On frosty mornings, and during snows, they perch on the upper 
branches of pine-trees. They avoid wet and swampy places, and are 
remarkably attached to dry ground. The low and open brush is pre- 
ferred to high shrubbery and thickets. Into these latter places they 
fly for refuge when closely pressed by the hunters ; and here, under a 
stiff and impenetrable cover, they escape the pursuit of dogs and men. 
Water is so seldom met Avith on the true Grouse ground, that it is 
necessary to carry it along for the pointers to drink. The flights of 



2G0 PINNATED GROUSE. 

Grouse are short, but sudden, rapid, and whirring. I have not heard 
of any success in taming them. They seem to resist all attempts at 
domestication. In this, as well as in many other respects, tliey re- 
semble the Quail of New York, or the Partridge of Pennsylvania. 

^''Manners. — During the period of mating, and while the females 
are occupied in incubation, the males have a practice of assembling, 
principally by themselves. To some select and central spot, where 
there is very little underwood, they repair from the adjoining district. 
From the exercises performed there, tliis is called a scratching-place. 
The time of meeting is the break of day. As soon as the light ap- 
pears, the company assembles from every side, sometimes to the num- 
ber of forty or fifty. When the dawn is past, the ceremony begins by 
a low tooting from one of the cocks. This is answered by another. 
They then come forth one by one from the bushes, and strut about 
with all the pride and ostentation they can display. Their necks are 
incarvated; the feathers on them are erected into a sort of ruff"; the 
plumes of their tails are expanded like fans ; they strut about in a style 
resembling, as nearly as small may be illustrated by great, the pomp 
of the Turkey cock. They seem to vie with each other in stateliness ; 
and, as they pass each other, frequently cast looks of insult, and utter 
notes of defiance. These are the signals for battles. They engage 
with wonderful spirit and fierceness. During these contests, they 
leap a foot or two from the ground, and utter a cackling, screaming, 
and discordant cry, 

" They have been found in these places of resort even earlier than 
the appearance of light in the east This fact has led to the belief 
that a part of them assemble over night. The rest join them in the 
morning. This leads to the further^ belief that they roost on the 
ground. And the opinion is confirmed by the discovery of little rings 
of dung, apparently deposited by a flock which had passed tlie night 
together. After the appearance of tlie sun they disperse. 

"These places of exhibition have been often discovered by the 
hunters ; and a fatal discovery it has been for the poor Grouse. Their 
destroyers construct for themselves lurking holes made of pine 
branches, called hough houses, within a few yards of the parade. 
Hither tliey repair with their fowling-pieces, in tlie latter part of the 
night, and wait the appearance of the birds. Watching the moment 
when two are proudly eyeing each other, or engaged in battle, or when 
a greater number can be seen in a range, they pour on them a de- 
structive charge of shot This annoyance has been given in so many 
places, and to such extent, that the Grouse, after having been repeat- 
edly disturbed, are afraid to assemble. On approaching the spot to 
which their instinct prompts them, they perch on the neighboring 
trees, instead of alighting at the scratching-place. And it remains to 
be observed how far the restless and tonnenting spirit of the marks- 
men may alter the native habits of the Grouse, and oblige them to 
betake themselves to new ways of life. 

" They commonly keep together in coveys, or packs, as the phrase 
is, until tlie pairing season. A full pack consists, of course, of ten or 
a dozen. Two packs have been known to associate. I lately heard 
of one whose number amounted to twenty-two. They are so unapt to 
be startled, that a hunter, assisted by a dog, has been able to shoot 



PINNATED GROUSE. 261 

almost a whole pack, without making any of them take wing. In like 
manner, the men lying in concealment near the scratching-places have 
been known to discharge several guns before either the report of the 
explosion, or the sight of their wounded and dead fellows, would rouse 
tliem to flight. It has further been remarked that when a company of 
sportsmen have surrounded a pack of Grouse, the birds seldom or never 
rise upon their pinions while they are encircled ; but each runs along 
until it passes the person that is nearest, and then flutters off" with the 
utmost expedition. 

" As you have made no inquiry of me concerning the ornithological 
character of these birds, I have not mentioned it, presuming that you 
are already perfectly acquainted with their classification and descrip- 
tion. In a short memoir written in 1803, and printed in the eiglith 
volume of the Medical Repository^ I ventured an opinion as to the 
genus and species. Whether I was correct is a technical matter, 
M'hich 1 leave you to adjust. I am well aware that European accounts 
of our productions are often erroneous, and require revision and amend- 
ment This you must perform. For me it remains to repeat my joy 
at tiie opportunity your invitation has aftbrded me to contribute some- 
what to your elegant work, and at the same time to assure you of my 
earnest hope tliat you may be favored with ample means to complete it. 

"Samuel L. Mitchill." 

Duly sensible of tlie honor of the foregoing communication, and 
grateful for the good wishes with which it is concluded, I shall now, 
in further elucidation of the subject, subjoin a few particulars properly 
belonging to my own department. 

It is somewhat extraordinary that the European naturalists, in their 
various accounts of our diflerent species of Grouse, should have said 
lit:le or nothing of the one now before us, which, in its voice, manners, 
and peculiarity of plumage, is the most singular, and, in its flesh, the 
most excellent of all those of its tribe that inhabit the territory of the 
United States. It seems to have escaped Catesby during his residence 
and different tours through this country, and it was not till more than 
twenty years after his return to England, viz., in 1743, that he first saw 
some of these birds, as he informs us, at Cheswick, the seat of the Earl 
of Wilmington. His lordship said they came from America ; but from 
what particular part, could not tell.* Buflbn has confounded it with 
the Rufted Grouse, the Common Partridge of New England, or Pheasant 
of Pennsylvania, [Tetrao lunbellus ;) Edwards and Pennant have, how- 
ever, discovered that it is a diflferent species, but have said little of its 
note, of its flesh, or peculiarities ; for, alas ! there was neither voice, 
nor action, nor delicacy of flavor in the shrunk and decayed skin from 
which the former took his figure, and the latter his description ; and 
to this circumstance must be attributed the barrermess and defects of 
both. 

That tlie curious may have an opportunity of examining to more 
advantage this singular bird, a figure of the male is here given, as 
large as life, drawn with great care from the most perfect of several 
elegant specimens shot in the Barrens of Kentucky. He is repre- 
sented in the act of strutting^ as it is called, while with inflated throat 

* Catesby, Car. p. 101. App. 



262 PINNATED GROUSE. 

he produces that extraordinary sound so familiar to every one who 
resides in his vicinity, and which has been described in the foregoing 
account So very novel and characteristic did the action of these 
birds appear to me at first sight, that, instead of shooting them down, 
I sketched their attitude hastily on tlie spot, while concealed among 
a brush-heap, with seven or eight of them within a short distance. 
Three of these I afterwards carried home with me. 

This rare bird, though an inliabitant of different and very distant 
districts of North America, is extremely particular in selecting his 
place of residence ; pitching only upon those tracts whose features and 
productions correspond with his modes of life, and avoiding immense, 
intermediate regions that he never visits. Open, dry plains, thinly 
interspersed with trees, or partially overgrown with shrub oak, are his 
favorite haunts. Accordingly we find these birds on the Grouse plains 
of New Jersey, in Burlington county, as well as on the brushy plains 
of Long Island ; among the pines and shrub oaks of Pocano, in North- 
ampton county, Pennsylvania ; over the whole extent of the Barrens 
of Kentucky ; on the luxuriant plains and prairies of the Indiana 
Territory, and Upper Louisiana ; and, according to the information of 
the late Governor Lewis, on the vast and remote plains of the Colum- 
bia River; in all these places preserving the same singular habits. 

Their predilection for such situations will be best accounted for by 
considering the following facts and circumstances : — First, their mode 
of flight is generally direct, and laborious, and ill calculated for the 
labyrinth of a high and thick forest, crowded and intersected with 
trunks and amis of trees, that require continual angular evolution of 
wing, or sudden turnings, to which they are by no means accustomed. 
I have always observed them to avoid the high-timbered groves that 
occur here and there in the Barrens. Connected with this fact, is a 
circumstance related to me by a very respectable inhabitant of that 
country, viz., that one forenoon a cock Grouse struck the stone chimney 
of his house with such force as instantly to fall dead to the ground. 

Secondly, their knoAvn dislike of ponds, marshes, or watery places, 
which they avoid on all occasions, drinking but seldom, and, it is 
believed, never from such places. Even in confinement this peculiarity 
lias been taken notice of. While I was in the state of Tennessee, a 
person living within a feAv miles of Nashville had caught an old hen 
Grouse in a trap ; and, being obliged to keep her in a large cage, as 
she struck and abused the rest of the poultry, he remarked that she 
never drank, and that she even avoided that quarter of tlie cage where 
the cup containing the water was placed. Happening, one day, to let 
some water fall on the cage, it trickled down in drops along the bars, 
which the bird no sooner observed, than she eagerly picked them ofi", 
drop by drop, Avith a dexterity that showed she had been liabituated to 
this mode of quenching her thirst ; and, probably, to this mode only, 
in those dry and barren tracts, where, except the drops of dew and 
drops of rain, water is very rarely to be met with. For the space of a 
week he watched lier closely, to discover whether she still refused to 
drink ; but, though she was constantly fed on Indian Corn, the cup 
and water still remained untouched and untasted. Yet no sooner did 
he again sprinkle Avater on the bars of the cage, than she eagerly and 
rapidly picked them off as before. 



PINNxVTED GROUSE. 263 

The last, and, probably, the strongest inducement to their preferring 
these plains, is tlie small acorn of the shrub oak, the strawberries, 
huckleberries, and partridgeberries, with which they abound, and 
which constitute the principal part of the food of these birds. These 
brushy thickets also afford them excellent shelter, being almost im- 
penetrable to dogs or birds of prey. 

In all these places where they inhabit, they are, in the strictest 
sense of the word, resident; having their particular haunts and places 
of rendezvous, (as described in the preceding account,) to which they 
are strongly attached. Yet they liave been known to abandon an 
entire tract of such country, when, from whatever cause it might pro- 
ceed, it became again covered with forest A few miles south of the 
town of York, in Pennsylvania, commences an extent of country, 
fonnerly of the character described, now chiefly covered with wood, 
but still retaining the name of Barrens. In tlie recollection of an old 
man born in that part of the country, this tract abounded with Grouse. 
The timber growing up, in progress of years, these birds totally dis- 
appeared ; and, for a long period of time, he had seen none of them, 
until, migrating with his family to Kentucky, on entering the Barrens, 
he, one morning, recognized the well-known music of his old ac- 
quaintance, the Grouse ; wliich, he assures me, are the very same 
with those he had known in Pennsylvania. 

But what appears to me tlie most remarkable circumstance relative 
to this bird, is, that not one of all those writers who have attempted 
its history, liave taken the least notice of those two extraordinary bags 
of yellow skin which mark the neck of the male, and which constitute 
so striking a peculiarity. These appear to be formed by an expansion 
of the gullet, as well as of the exterior skin of the neck, which when 
the bird is at rest, hangs in loose, pendulous, wrinkled folds, along the 
side of the neck, the supplemental wings, at the same time, as well as 
when the bird is flying, lying along the neck, in the manner repre- 
sented in one of the distant figures on the plate. But when these bags 
are inflated with air, in breeding time, they are equal in size, and 
very much resemble in color, a middle-sized, fully ripe orange. By 
means of this curious apparatus, which is very observable several 
hundred yards oflT, he is enabled to produce the extraordinary sound 
mentioned above, which, though it may easily be imitated, is yet diffi- 
cult to describe by words. It consists of three notes, of the same 
tone, resembling those produced by the Night Hawks in their rapid 
descent ; each strongly accented, the last being twice as long as the 
others. When several are thus engaged, the ear is unable to distin- 
guish the regularity of these triple notes, there being, at such times, 
one continued bumming, which is disagreeable and perplexing, from 
the impossibility of ascertaining from what distance, or even quarter, 
it proceeds. While uttering this, the bird exhibits all the ostentatious 
gesticulations of a Turkey cock ; erecting and fluttering his neck 
wings, wheeling and passing before the female, and close before his 
fellows, as in defiance. Now and then are heard some rapid, cackling 
notes, not unlike that of a person tickled to excessive laughter ; and, 
in short, one can scarcely listen to them without feeling disposed to 
laugh from sympathy. These are uttered by the males while engaged 
in fight, on which occasion they leap up against each other, exactly in 



264 PINNATED GROUSE. 

the manner of Turkeys, seemingly with more malice than effect 
This bumming continues from a little before daybreak to eight or 
nine o'clock in the morning, when the parties separate to seek for 
food. 

Fresh ploughed fields, in tlie vicinity of their resorts, are sure to be 
visited by these birds every morning, and frequently also in the 
evening. On one of these I counted, at one time, seventeen males, 
most of whom were in the attitude represented in the plate ; making 
such a continued sound, as, I am persuaded, might have been heard 
for more than a mile off. The people of the Barrens informed me, 
that, when the weather becomes severe, witli snow, they approach the 
barn and farm-house, are sometimes seen sitting on the fences in 
dozens, mix with the poultry, and glean up the scattered grains of 
Indian corn, seeming almost half domesticated. At such times, great 
numbers are taken in traps. No pains, however, or regular plan, has 
ever been persisted in, as far as I was informed, to domesticate these 
delicious birds. A Mr. Reed, who lives between the Pilot Knobs and 
Bairdstown, told me, that, a few years ago, one of his sons found a 
Grouse's nest with fifteen eggs, which he brought home, and immedi- 
ately placed below a Hen then sitting, taking away her own. The 
nest of the Grouse was on the ground, under a tussock of long grass, 
formed with very little art, and few materials ; the eggs were brown- 
ish white, and about the size of a pullet's. In three or four days, the 
whole were hatched. Instead of following the Hen, they compelled 
her to run after them, distracting her with the extent and diversity of 
tlieir wanderings ; and it was a day or two before they seemed to 
understand her language, or consent to be guided by her. They were 
let out to the fields, where they paid little regard to their nurse ; and, 
in a few days, only three of them remained. These became extremely 
tame and familiar ; were most expert flycatchers ; but, soon after, 
they also disappeared. 

The Pinnated Grouse is nineteen inches long, twenty-seven inches 
in extent, and, when in good order, weighs about three pounds and a 
half; the neck is furnished with supplemental wings, each composed 
of eighteen feathers, five of which are black, and about tliree inches 
long ; the rest shorter, also black, streaked laterally with brown, and 
of unequal lengths ; the head is slightly crested ; over the eye is an 
elegant, semicircular comb of rich orange, which the bird has the 
power of raising or relaxing ; under the neck wings are two loose, 
pendulous, and wrinkled skins, extending along the side of the neck 
for two thirds of its length ; each of which, when inflated with air, 
resembles, in bulk, color, and surface, a middle-sized orange ; chin, 
cream colored ; under the eye runs a dark streak of brown ; whole 
upper parts, mottled transversely with black, reddish brown, and 
white ; tail short, very much rounded, and of a plain brownish soot 
color ; throat, elegantly marked with touches of reddish brown, white, 
and black; lower part of the breast and belly, pale brown, marked 
transversely with white ; legs, covered to the toes with hairy down of 
a dirty drab color ; feet, dull yellow ; toes, pectinated ; vent, whitish ; 
bill, brownish honi color ; eye, reddish hazel. The female is con- 
siderably less ; of a lighter color, destitute of the neck wings, the 
naked, yellow skin on tlie neck, and the semicircular comb of yellow 
over the eye. 



BLUE-GREEN WARBLER. 265 

On dissecting these birds, the gizzard was found extremely muscu- 
lar, having almost the hardness of a stone ; the heart remarkably large ; 
the crop was filled with brier knots, containing the larvae of some 
insect, quantities of a species of green lichen, small, hard seeds, and 
some grains of Indian corn. 



BLUE-GREEN WARBLER. — SYLVIA RARA. — Fig. 125. 

Peak's Museum, No. 7788. 

VERMIVOIWi i2^/L^.— Jardine.* 

Sylvia rara, Bonap. Synop. p. 82. — Aud. pi. 49, male 5 Oi-n, Biog. i. p. 258. 

This new species, the only one of its sort I have yet met with, was 
shot on the banks of Cumberland River, about the beginning of April, 
and the drawing made with care immediately after. Whether male 
or female, I am uncertain. It is one of those birds that usually glean 
among the high branches of the tallest trees, which renders it difficult 
to be procured. It was darting about with great nimbleness among 
the leaves, and appeared to have many of the habits of the Flycatcher. 
After several ineffectual excursions in search of another of the same 
kind, with which I might compare the present, I am obliged to intro- 
duce it with this brief account 

The specimen has been deposited in Mr. Peale's museum. 

The Blue-green Warbler is four inches and a half long, and seven 
and a half in extent ; the upper parts are verditer, tinged with pale 
green, brightest on the front and forehead ; lores, line over the eye, 
throat, and whole lower parts, very pale cream ; cheeks, slightly tinged 
with greenish ; bill and legs, bright light blue, except the upper man- 
dible, which is dusky ; tail, forked, and, as well as the wings, brownish 
black ; the former marked on the three exterior vanes with white, and 
edged with greenish ; the latter having the first and second row of 
coverts tipped with white. Note, a feeble chirp. 

* This species was discovered by Wilson, and does not seem to have been again 
met with by any ornithologist except Mr. Audubon, who has figured it, and adcled 
somewhat to our knowledge of its manners. 

" It is rare in the middle districts, and is only found in the dark recesses of the 
pine swamp. On its passage through the states, it appears in Louisiana, in April. 
They are met with in Kentucky, in Ohio, upon the Missouri, and along Lake Erie." 
Mr. Audubon has never seen the nest. In spring the song is soft and mellow, and 
not heard beyond the distance of a few paces 3 it is performed at intervals, between 
the times at which the bird secures an insect, which it does with great expertness, 
either on the wing, or among the leaves of the trees and bushes. While catching 
it on the wing, it produces a slight, clicking sound with its bill, like Vireo. It also, 
like them, eats small berries, particularly towards autumn, when insects begin to 
fail. There seems little difference between the sexes. Such is the most important 
information given by Mr. Audubon. — Ed. 



266 NASHVILLE WARBLER. 

NASHVILLE WARBLER— SYLVIA RUFICAPILLA. — Fig. 126. 

Peak's Museum, No. 7789. 

VERMIVORA RUBRICAPILLA. — 'Bvi Kivso-m* 

Syh-ia rubricapilla, Wils. Catal. — Bonap. Synop.p.Sl. — Svlvicola (Vermivora) 
mbricapilla, North. Zool. ii. p. 220. — The Nashville Warbler, Aud. pi 89 ; 
Orn. Biog. i. p. 450. 

The very uncommon notes of this little bird were familiar to me 
for several days before I succeeded in obtaining it. These notes very 
much resembled the breaking of small dry twigs, or the striking of 
small pebbles of different sizes smartly against each other for six or 
seven times, and loud enough to be heard at the distance of thirty or 
forty yards. It was some time before I could ascertain whether the 
sound proceeded from a bird or an insect. At length I discovered the 
bird, and was not a little gratified at finding it an entire new and 
hitherto undescribed species. I was also fortunate enough to meet 
afterwards Avith two others exactly corresponding with the first, all of 
them being males. These were shot in the state of Tennessee, not 
far from Nashville. It had all the agility and active habits of its 
family, the Worm-eaters. 

The length of this species is four inches and a half, breadth, seven 
inches ; the upper parts of the head and neck, light ash, a little in- 
clining to olive ; crown, spotted with deep chestnut in small touches ; 
a pale yellowish ring round the eye ; whole lower parts, vivid yellow, 
except the middle of the belly, which is white ; back, yellow olive, 
slightly skirted with ash ; rump and tail-coverts, rich yellow olive ; 
wings, nearly black, broadly edged Avith olive ; tail, slightly forked, 
and very dark olive ; legs, ash ; feet, dirty yellow ; bill, tapering to a 
fine point, and dusky ash ; no Avhite on wings or tail ; eye, hazel. 

* Wilson discovered this species, and afterwards, in his Catalogue of Birds in 
the United States, changed the specific name as above. Like the last, it seems 
very rare 5 Wilson saw only three 5 Audubon, three or four; and a single indi- 
vidual was shot by the over-land arctic expedition. " The latter was killed hopping 
about the branches of a tree, and emitting a creaking noise something like the 
whetting of a saw." The nest does not yet seem to be known. — Ed. 




'---^ 





55S 






is 






YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. 267 



YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. — CUCULUS CAROLINENSIS.— 

Fig. 127. 

Cuculus Amoricanus, Linn. Syst. 170. — Catesb. i. 9. — Lath. i. 537. — Le Coucou 
dc la Caroline, Briss. iv. 112. — Ajxt. Zool. ^65, No. 155. — Peak's Museum, 
No. 1778. 

COCCrZUS AMERICA^US. — BoNAP.iRTE.* 

Coccyzus Americanus, Bonap. Synop. p. 42. — The Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 
And. pi. 2; Oi-n. Biog. i. p. 18. 

A STRANGER wlio visits tliG United States, for the purpose of 
examininor their natural productions, and passes through our woods in 
the month of May or June, will sometimes hear, as he traverses the 
borders of deep, retired, liigh-timbered hollows, an uncouth, guttural 
sound or note, resembling the syllables kowe^ koive, koive koive kowe, be- 
ginning slowly, but ending so rapidly, that the notes seem to run into 
eacli other ; and vice versa : he will hear this frequently, without being 
able to discover the bird or animal from which it proceeds, as it is both 
shy and solitary, seeking always the thickest foliage for concealment 
This is the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the subject of the present account 
From tlie imitative sound of its note, it is known in many parts by the 

■' Bonaparte has preferred restoring' the specific name of LinncTeus to that g-iveu 
by Catesby ami Brisson, and b^^ this it should stand in our systems. 

This form will represent in America the true Cuckoos, which otherwise range 
over the world ; it was first separated by Vaillant under the French name Conec, 
and the same division was adopted by Vieillot, under the name of Coccyzus, which 
is now retained. They differ from the Cuckoos chiefly in habit, — building a reg'u- 
lar nest, and rearing their young. North America possesses only two species, our 
present and tlie following, which are both migratory. Some beautiful species are 
mot with in diflerent parts of the southern continent. 

Mr. Audubon has added liule to their history further than confirming the accounts 
of Wilson. In their migrations northward, they move singly ; but when removing- 
again to a warmer latitude, they appear to be gregarious, flying high in the air, and 
in loose flocks. 

They appear to delight more in deep, woody solitudes than the true Cuckoos, or 
those which approach nearest to the form of the European species. They, again, 
though often found near woods, and in richly-clothed countries, are fond of open 
and extensive heaths or commons, studded or fringed with brush and forest : here 
they may expect an almndant supply of the foster-parent to their young. The 
gliding and turning motion when flying in a thicket, liowever, is similar to that of 
the American Coccijzus. Like them, also, they are seldom on the ground ; but, 
when obliged to be near it, alight on some hillock or twig, where they will continue 
for a considerable time, swinging round their body in a rather ludicrous manner, 
with lowered wings and expanded tail, and uttering a rather low, monotonous 
sound, resembling the koiceof our American bird, — 

Turning round and round with cutty-coo. 

When suddenly surprised or disturbed from their roost at night, they utter a short, 
tremulous whistle, three or four tinips repealed ; it is only on their first arrival, dur- 
ing the early part of incubation, when in search of a mate, that their well-known 
and welcome note is heard; by the first of July all is silent. The idea that the 
Common Cuckoo destroys eggs and young birds, like the American Coccyzus, is 
also entertained ; I have never seen them do so, but the fact is affirmed by most 
country persons, and many gamekeepers destroy them on this account. — Er. 



268 YELLOW-BILLED CLTKOO. 

name of the Cow Bird; it is also called in Virginia the Itain Crou\ 
being observed to be most clamorous immediately before rain. 

This species arrives in Pennsylvania, from the south, about the 
twenty-second of April, and spreads over the country, as far at leeist as 
Lake Ontario ; is numerous in the Chickasaw and Chactaw nations ; 
and also breeds in the upper parts of Georgia ; preferring, in all these 
places, the borders of solitary swamps and apple orchards. It leaves 
us, on its return southward, about the middle of September. 

The singular — I will not say unnatural — conduct of the European 
Cuckoo, (Cucwhis ca7iori;5,) which never constructs a nest for itself, 
but drops its eggs in those of other birds, and abandons them to their 
mercy and management, is so universally known, and so proverbial, 
that the whole tribe of Cuckoos have, by some inconsiderate people, 
been stigmatized as destitute of all parental care and affection. 
Without attempting to account for this remarkable habit of the Euro- 
pean species, far less to consider as an error what the wisdom of 
Heaven has imposed as a duty on the species, I will only remark, that 
the bird now before us builds its own nest, hatches its own eggs, and 
rears its own young; and, in conjugal and parental affection, seems 
nowise behind any of its neighbors of the grove. 

Early in May, they begin to pair, when obstinate battles take place 
among the males. About the tenth of that month, they commence 
building. The nest is usually fixed among the horizontal branches of 
an apple-tree ; sometimes in a solitary thorn, crab, or cedar, in some 
retired part of the woods. It is constructed, with little art, and 
scarcely any concavity, of small sticks and twigs, intermixed with 
green weeds, and blossoms of the common maple. On this almost flat 
bed, the eggs, usually three or four in number, are placed ; these are 
of a uniform greenish blue color, and of a size proportionable to that 
of the bird. While the female is sitting, the male is generally not far 
distant, and gives the alarm, by his notes, when any person is approach- 
ing. The female sits so close, that you may almost reach her with 
your hand, and then precipitates herself to the ground, feigning lame- 
ness, to draw you away from the spot, fluttering, trailing her wings, 
and tumbling over, in the manner of tlie Partridge, Woodcock, 
and many other species. Both parents unite in providing food for the 
young. This consists, for the most part, of caterpillars, particularly 
such as infest apple-trees. The same insects constitute the chief part 
of their own sustenance. They are accused, and with some justice, of 
sucking the eggs of other birds, like the Crow, the Blue Jay, and 
other pillagers. They also occasionally eat various kinds of berries. 
But, from the circumstance of destroying such numbers of very noxious 
larvse, they prove themselves the friends of the fanner, and are highly 
deserving of his protection. 

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo is thirteen inches long, and sixteen 
inches in extent ; the whole upper parts are of a dark glossy drab, or 
what is usually called a Quaker color, with greenish silky reflections ; 
from this must, however, be excepted the inner vanes of the wings, 
which are bright reddish cinnamon ; tlie tail is long, composed of ten 
feathers, the two middle ones being of the same color as the back ; the 
others, which gradually shorten to the exterior ones, are black, largely 
tipped with white ; tlie two outer ones are scarcely half the length of 



BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. 269 

the middle ones. The whole lower parts are pure white ; the feathers 
covering the thig^hs being large, like those of tlie Hawk tribe ; the 
legs and feet are light blue, the toes placed two before and two behind, 
as in the rest of tlie genus. The bill is long, a little bent, very broad 
at tlie base, dusky black above, and yellow below; the eye hazel, 
featliered close to the eyelid, which is yellow. The female differs 
little from the male ; the four middle tail-feathers in her are of the 
same unifonn drab ; and the white, with which the others are tipped, 
not so pure as in the male. 

In examining this bird by dissection, the inner membrane of the 
gizzard, which in many other species is so hard and muscular, in tliis 
is extremely lax and soft, capable of great distention ; and, what is 
remarkable, is covered with a growth of fine down, or hair, of a light 
fawn color. It is difficult to ascertain the particular purpose which 
nature intends by this excrescence ; perhaps it may serve to shield the 
tender parts from the irritating effects produced by the hairs of certain 
caterpillars, some of which are said to be almost equal to the sting of 
a nettle. 



BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. — CUCULUS ERYTHROPTHALMA. 
— Fig. 128. 

Peak's Museum, No. 1854. 

COCCYZUS ERYTHROPTHALMUS. — Bonaparte.* 

Coccyzus erythropthalmuS; Bonap. Synop. p. 42. — The Black-billed Cuckoo, 
And. pi. 32, male and female j Orn. Biog. i. p. 170. 

This Cuckoo is nearly as numerous as the former, but has hitherto 
escaped the notice of European naturalists; or, from its general 
resemblance, has been confounded with the preceding. Its par- 
ticular markings, however, and some of its habits, sufficiently char- 
acterize it as a distinct species. Its general color above is nearly 
that of the former, inclining more to a pale ash on the cheeks and 
front ; it is about an inch less in length ; the tail is of a uniform dark 
silky drab, except at the tip, where each feather is marked with a spot 
of white, bordered above with a slight touch of dull black ; the bill 
is wholly black, and much smaller than that of the preceding; and it 
wants the bright cinnamon on the wings. But Avhat constitutes its 
most distinguishing trait is, a bare, Avrinkled skin, of a deep red 
color, that surrounds the eye. The female differs little in external 
appearance from the male. 

The Black-billed Cuckoo is particularly fond of the sides of creeks, 

* Wilson, I believe, deserves the credit of distinguishing this species. It is 
closely aUied to, but differs widely, both in its habits and feeding, from its conge- 
ners and the true Cuckoos. In addition to shells and water insects, Audubon men- 
tions having fmuid in their stomachs a small black frog, which appears after a 
summer shower. — Ed. 

23* 



270 BLUE YELLOW-BACK WARBLER. 

feeding on small shell-fish, snails, &c. I have also often found 
broken pieces of oyster shells in its gizzard, which, like that of the 
other, is covered with fine downy hair. 

The nest of this bird is most commonly built in a cedar, much 
in the same manner, and of nearly the same materials, as tliat of the 
other ; but the eggs are smaller, usually four or five in number, and of 
a rather deeper greenish blue. 

This bird is likewise found in the state of Georgia, and has not 
escaped the notice of Mr. Abbot, who is satisfied of its being a 
distinct species from the preceding. 



BLUE YELLOW-BACK WARBLER.— SYLVIA PUSILLA — 
Fig. 129. 

Parus Americanus, Linn. Syst. 34L — Finch Creeper, Catesb. i. 64. — Lath. ii. 5.58. 
— Creeping Titmouse^ Arct. Zonl. 423, No. 326. — Parus varius, Various-colored 
Little Finch Creeper, Bart. p. '2.92. — Peak's Museum, No. 6910. 

SYLVICOLji .aMERICAJ^A. — Swainson.* 

Sylvia Americana, Lath. Ind. Orn. ii. p. 520. — Bonap. Sijnop. p. 83. — Sylvicola 
pusilla, Sw. Synop. Birds of Mex. Ann. of Phil. p. 433. — Zool. Journ. No. 10, 
p. 169. — The Blue Yellow-backed Warbler, And. pi. 15, male and female 5 
Orn. Biog. i. p. 78. 

Notwithstanding the respectability of the above authorities, 1 
must continue to consider this bird as a species of Warbler. Its 
habits, indeed, partake something of the Titmouse ; but the form of 
its bill is decidedly that of the Sylvia genus. It is remarkable for 
frequenting the tops of the tallest trees, where it feeds on the small 
winged insects and caterpillars that infest the young leaves and 
blossoms. It has a few, feeble, cheruping notes, scarcely loud enough 
to be heard at tlie foot of tlie tree. It visits Pennsylvania from 
the south, early in May ; is very abundant in the Avoods of Kentucky ; 
and is also found in the northern parts of the state of New York. 
Its nest I have never yet met with, f 

This little species is four inches and a half long, and six inches and 
a half in breadth ; the front, and between the bill and eyes, is black; 
the upper part of the head and neck, a fine Prussian blue ; upper part 
of the back, brownish yellow ; lower, and rump, pale blue ; wings and 

* There is nothing- more annoying than the unravelling of names. That of ^7«e?-2- 
cona, without doubt, seems to have been the specific appellation lirst applied 3 and 
if we are to adhere to any given rule in nomenclature, that should be now adopted. 
The present species has also been made typical of the group which is confined to 
the New World. — Ed. 

t According to Audubon, the nest is small, formed of lichens, beautifully arranged 
ou the outside, and lined with the cotton substances found on the edges of different 
mosses ; it is placed in the fork of a small twig, near the extremity of the branch. 
The eggs are pure white, with a few reddish dots at the longer end Mr. Audubon 
thinks two broods are raised in the year. — Ed. 



YELLOW RED-POLL WARBLER. 271 

tail, black ; the fomier crossed with two bars of white, and edged with 
blue ; tlie latter marked on the inner webs of the three exterior feath- 
ers with white, a circumstance common to a great number of the 
genus ; immediately above and below the eye is a small touch of 
white ; the upper mandible is black ; the lower, as well as the whole 
tliroat and breast, rich yellow, deepening about its middle to orange 
red, and marked on the throat with a small crescent of black ; on the 
edge of the breast is a slight touch of rufous ; belly and vent, white ; 
legs, dark brown; feet, dirty yellow. The female wants both the 
black and orange on the tliroat and breast ; the blue on the upper 
parts is also of a duller tint. 



YELLOW RED-POLL WARBLER. — SYLVIA PETECHIA. — 
Fig. 130. 

Red-headed Warbler, Turton, i. 605. — Pedes Musemn, No. 7124. 

SYLVICOLA PETECHM. — SyvAiysoTi. 

Lath. Ind. Orn. ii. p. 535. — Sylvia petechia; Bonap. Synop. p. 83. — Red-headed 
Warbler, Perm. Arct. Zool. ii. p. 401. — Sylvicola petechia, North. Zool. ii. 
p. 215. 

This delicate little bird arrives in Pennsylvania early in April, 
while the maples are yet in blossom, among the branches of which it 
may generally be found at that season, feeding on the stamina of the 
flowers, and on small winged insects. Low, swampy thickets are its 
favorite places of resort. It is not numerous, and its notes are unde- 
serving the name of song. It remains with us all summer, but its nest 
has hitherto escaped me. It leaves us late in September. Some of 
them probably winter in Georgia, having myself shot several, late in 
February, on the borders of the Savannah River. 

Length of the Yellow Red-Poll, five inches ; extent, eight ; line 
over tlie eye, and whole lower parts, rich yellow ; breast, streaked with 
dull red ; upper part of the head, reddish chestnut, which it loses in 
winter ; back, yellow olive, streaked with dusky ; rump, and tail- 
coverts, greenish yellow ; wings, deep blackish brown, exteriorly 
edged with olive ; tail, slightly forked, and of the same color as the 
wings. 

The female wants the red cap, and the yellow of the lower part is 
less brilliant ; the streaks of red on the breast are also fewer and less 
distinct 



272 IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER. 



IVORY-BILLED V^OODPECKER. — PICUS PRINCIPALIS.— 
Fig. r3L 

Picus principalis, Lynn. Sijst. i. p. 173, 2. — Gmel. Syst. i. p. 425. — Picus Niger 
Carolinensis, Briss. iv. p. "26, 9 ; Id. 8vo. ii. p. 49. — Pic uoir a bee blauc, Buff. 
vii. p. 46. PL enl. 690. — King of the Woodpeckers, Kalm, ii. p. 85. — White- 
billed Woodpecker, Catesb. Car. i. 6, 16. — Arct. Zool. ii. No. 156. — Lath. Syst. 
ii. p. 553. — Bartram, p. 289. — Peak's Museum, No. 1884. 

PICUS PRLVCIP.^LIS. — LiNNius.* 

Picus principalis, Bonap. Synop. p. 44. — Wagl. Sijst. Av. Picus, No. 1. — The 
Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Aud. pi. 66, male and female ; Orn. Biog. i. p. 341. 

This majestic and formidable species, in strength and magnitude, 
stands at the head of the whole class of Woodpeckers hitherto discov- 
ered. He may be called tlie king or chief of his tribe ; and Nature 

* The genus Picus, or Woodpeckers, with the exception of the Parrots, forms 
the most extensive group among the Scunsores, and perhaps one of the most natu- 
ral among the numerous divisions now assig'ued to the feathered race. In a former 
note, we mentioned the difference of form, and corresponding moditication of habit, 
that nevertheless existed among them. Most ornithologists have divided them into 
three groups only, taking the common form of Woodpeckers for the type, making 
another of the Golden-winged, and including in a third the very minute species 
which form Temminck's genus Picumnus, but which, I believe, will be found to 
rank in a family somewhat different. Mr. Swainson, again, in following out the 
\-iews which he holds regarding the affinities of living beings, has formed five 
groups, — taking our present form as typical, under the title Pictis ; that of the 
Green Woodpecker, under Chrysoptilus ; that of the Red-headed Woodpecker, as 
Melanerpes ; the Golden-Wings, as Colaptes ; and Malacolnphus, as the Soft- 
crested Brazilian and Indian species. Of these forms, the northern parts of Amer- 
ica will contain only three : two we have had occasion already to remark upon ; 
and the third forms the subject of our author's present description — the most power- 
ful of the whole tribe, and showing all the forms aud peculiarities of the true Wood- 
pecker developed to the utmost. 

The Pici are very numerous, and are distributed over the whole world. New 
Holland excepted ; America, however, including both continents, may be termed 
the land of Woodpeckers. Her vast and solitary forests afford abundance to sat- 
isfy their various wants, and furnish a secluded retirement from the inroads of culti- 
vation. Next in number, I believe, India and her islands are best stored ; then, 
Africa ; and lasth', Europe. The numbers, however, are always greatest between 
the tropics, and generally diminish as we recede from and approach temperate or 
cold regions. They are mostly insectivorous; a few species onlvfeed occasionally 
on different fruits and berries. The various Coleoptera, that form their abodes in 
dead and decaying timber, and beneath their bark and moss, with their egg^ and 
large larvae, form an essential part of their subsistence. For securing this prey, 
digging it out from their burrows in the wood, and the peculiar mode of life incident 
to such pursuits, they are most admirably adapted. The bill is strong and wedge- 
shaped ; the neck possesses great muscularity. The tongue. — fitted by the curi- 
ous construction of its muscles and the os Jtijoides, and lubricated with" a viscous 
saliva, either gently to secure and draw in the weaker prey, or with great force 
and rapidity to dart out, and, it is said, to transfix the larger and more nimble in- 
sects, — joined lo the short leg^s and hooked, scansorial claws, with the stiff, bent 
tail, are all provisions beautifully arranged for their wants. 

All the species are solitary ; live in pairs only during the .season of incubation; or 
are met with in small flocks, the amount of the" year's brood, in the end of autumn, 
before they have separated. This solitary habit, and their haunts being generally 



IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER. 273 

seems to have designed him a distinguished characteristic in the su- 
perb carmine crest and bill of polished ivory Avith which she has 
ornamented him. His eye is brilliant and daring ; and his whole 
frame so admirably adapted for his mode of life and method of procur- 
ing subsistence, as to impress on the mind of the examiner the most 
reverential ideas of the Creator. His manners have also a dignity in 
them superior to the common herd of Woodpeckers. Trees, shrub- 
bery, orchards, rails, fence-posts, and old, prostrate logs, are alike 
interesting to those, in their humble and indefatigable search for prey ; 
but the royal hunter now before us scorns the Immility of such situa- 
tions, and seeks the most towering trees of the forests ; seeming par- 
ticularly attached to those prodigious cypress swamps, whose crowded 
giant sons stretch their bare and blasted or moss-hung arms midway 
to the skies. In these almost inaccessible recesses, amid ruinous piles 
of impending timber, his trumpet-like note and loud strokes resound 
through the solitary, savage wdlds, of which he seems the sole lord and 
inhabitant. Wherever he frequents, he leaves numerous monuments 
of his industry behind him. We there see enormous pine-ti'ees, with 
cartloads of bark lying around their roots, and chips of tlie ti'unk itself, 
in such quantities as to suggest the idea that half a dozen of axe-men 
liad been at work there for the whole morning. The body of the tree 
is also disfigured with such numerous and so large excavations, that 
one can hardly conceive it possible for the whole to be the work of a 
Woodpecker. With such strength, and an apparatus so pov/erful, 
what havock might he not commit, if numerous, on the most useful of 
our forest-trees ! And yet, with all these appearances, and much of 



gloomy and retired, has given rise to the opinion, enterlamed by many, that the life 
of the Woodpecker was hard and laborious, dragged on in the same unvaried tract 
for one purpose, — the supply of food. It has been painted in vivid and imaginary 
coloring, and its existence has been described to be painful and burdensomein the 
extreme ; its cries have been converted into complaints, and its search for food into 
exertions of no use. We cannot agree to this. The cry of the Woodpecker is 
wild, and no doubt the incessant hewing of holes, without an adequate object, would 
be sufficiently miserable. These, however, are the pleasures of the bird. The 
knowledge to search after food is implanted in it, and organs most admirably 
formed to prevent exhaustion and insure success, liave been granted to it. Its 
cries, though melancholy to us, are so from association with the dark forests and 
the stillness which surrounds their haunts, but perhaps, at the time when we judge, 
are expressive of the greatest enjoyment. An answer of kindness in reply to a 
mate, the calling together of the newly-flcdged brood, or exultation over the dis- 
covery of some favorite hoard of food, are what are set down as painful and 
discontented. 

Mr. Audubon's remarks on this splendid species, " the King of the Woodpeck- 
ers," I have transcribed at some length, as indicating the particular manner of the 
typical family of this great group : — 

"The Ivory-billed Woodpecker confines its rambles to a comparatively very 
small portion of the United .States, it never having been observed in the Middle 
States within the memory of any person now living there. In fact, in no portion 
of these districts does the nature of the woods appear suitable to its remarkable 
habits. 

" Descending the Ohio, we meet with this splendid bird for the first time near the 
confluence of that beautiful river and the Mississippi ; after which, following the wind- 
ings of the latter, either downwards toward the sea, or upwards in the direction of the 
Missouri, we frequently observe it. On the Atlantic coast. North Carolina may be 
taken as the limit of its" distribution; although now and then an individual of the spe- 



274 IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER. 

vulgar prejudice against him, it may fairly be questioned whether he 
is at all injurious ; or, at least, whether his exertions do not contribute 
most powerfully to the protection of our timber. Examine closely the 
tree where he has been at work, and you will soon perceive that it is 
neither from motives of mischief nor amusement that he slices off the 
bark, or digs his way into the trunk; for the sound and healthy tree 
is the least object of his attention. The diseased, infested witli in- 
sects, and hastening to putrefaction, are his favorites ; there the deadly, 
crawling enemy have formed a lodgment between the bark and ten- 
der wood, to drink up the very vital part of the tree. It is the ravages 
of these vermin, which the intelligent proprietor of the forest deplores 
as the sole perpetrators of the destruction of his timber. Would it be 
believed that the larvss of an insect, or fly, no larger than a grain of 
rice, should silently, and in one season, destroy some thousand acres 
of pine-trees, many of them from two to three feet in diameter, and a 
hundred and fifty feet high ? Yet whoever passes along the high road 
from Georgetown to Charleston, in South Carolina, about twenty miles 
from the former place, can have striking and melancholy proofs of this 
fact. In some places, the whole woods, as far as you can see around 
you, are dead, stripped of the bark, their wintry-looking arms and bare 
trunks bleaching in the sun, and tumbling in ruins before every blast, 
presenting a frightful picture of desolation. And yet ignorance and 
prejudice stubbornly persist in directing their indignation against the 
bird now before us, the constant and mortal enemy of these very ver- 
min ; as if the hand that probed the wound to extract its cause, should 
be equally detested witli that which inflicted it ; or as if the thief- 



cies may be accidentally seen in Maryland. To the westward of the Mississippi, it is 
found in all the dense forests bordering the streams which empty their waters into that 
majestic river, from the very declivities of the Rocky Mountains. The lower parts 
of the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, are, however, the 
most favorite resorts of this bird, and in those states it constantly resides, breeds, 
and passes a life of peaceful enjoyment, finding a profusion of food in all the deep, 
dark, and gloomy swamps dispersed throughout them. 

"The flight of this bird is graceful in the extreme, although seldom prolonged to 
more than a few hundred yards at a time, unless when it has to cross a large river, 
which it does in deep undulations, opening its wings at first to their full extent, and 
nearly closing them to renew the propelling impulse. The transit from one tree to 
another, even should the distance be as much as a hundred yards, is performed by 
a single sweep, and the bird appears as if merely swinging itself from the top of the 
one tree to that of the other, forming an elegantly curved line. At this moment, all 
the beauty of the plumage is exhibited, and strikes the beholder with pleasure. It 
never utters any sound whilst on wing, unless during the love season ; but. at all 
other times, no sooner has this bird alighted than its remarkable voice is heard, 
at almost every leap which it makes, whilst ascending against the upper parts of 
the trunk of a tree or its highest branches. Its notes are clear, loud, and yet very 
plaintive ; they are heard at a considerable distance, perhaps half a mile, and re- 
semble the false high note of a clarionet. They are usually repeated three times 
in succession, and may be represented by the monosyllable pait, pait, pait. These 
are heard so frequently as to induce me to say that the bird spends few minutes of 
the day without uttering them ; and this circumstance leads to its destruction, 
which is aimed at, not because (as is supposed by some) this species is a destroyer 
of trees, but more because it is a beautiful bird, and its rich scalp attached to "the 
upper mandible forms an ornament for the war-dress of most of our Indians, or for 
the shot-pouch of our squatters and hunters, by all of whom the bird is shot merely 
for that purpose." — Ed. 



IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER. 275 

catcher should be confounded with the thief. Until some effectual 
preventive, or more complete mode of destruction, can be devised 
against these insects and their larvae, I would humbly sugg-est the 
propriety of protectino", and receiving-, with proper feelings of grati- 
tude, the services of this and the whole tribe of Woodpeckers, letting 
the odium of guilt fall upon its proper owners. 

In looking over tlie accounts given of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker 
by the naturalists of Europe, I find it asserted that it inhabits from New- 
Jersey to Mexico. I believe, however, that few of them are ever 
seen to the north of Virginia, and very few of them even in that 
state. The first place I observed this bird at, when on my way to the 
south, was about twelve miles north of Wilmington in North Carolina. 
There I found the bird from whicli the drawing of Fig. 131 was 
taken. This bird was only wounded slightly in the wing, and, on be- 
ing caught, uttered a loudly reiterated and most piteous note, exactly 
resembling the violent crying of a young child ; which terrified my 
horse so, as nearly to have cost me my life. It was distressing to 
hear it. I carried it with me in the chair, under cover, to Wilming- 
ton. In passing through the streets, its affecting cries surprised every 
one within hearing, particularly the females, who hurried to the doors 
and windows with looks of alarm and anxiety. I drove on, and, on 
arriving at the piazza of the hotel, Avhere I intended to put up, the 
landlord came forward, and a number of other persons who happened 
to be there, all equally alarmed at what they heard ; this was greatly 
increased by my asking, v/hether he could furnish me with accommo- 
dations for myself and my baby. The man looked blank and foolish, 
while the others stared with still greater astonishment. Afler diverting 
myself for a minute or two at their expense, I drew my Woodpecker 
from under the cover, and a general laugh took place. I took him up 
stairs, and locked him up in my room, while I went to see my horse 
taken care of. In less than an hour, I returned, and, on opening the 
door, he set up the same distressing shout, which now appeared to 
proceed from grief that he had been discovered in his attempts at 
escape. He had mounted along the side of the window, nearly as 
high as the ceiling, a little below which he had begun to break through. 
The bed Avas covered with large pieces of plaster ; the lath was ex- 
posed for at least fifleen inches square, and a hole, large enough to 
admit the fist, opened to the weather-boards; so that, in less than an- 
other hour, he would certainly have succeeded in making his way 
through. I now tied a string round his leg, and, fastening it to the ta- 
ble, again left him. I wished to preserve his life, and had gone off in 
search of suitable food for him. As I reascended the stairs, I heard 
him again hard at work, and on entering had the mortification to per- 
ceive that he had almost entirely ruined the mahogany table to which 
he was fastened, and on which he had wreaked his whole vengeance. 
While engaged in taking the drawing, he cut me severely in several 
places, and, on the whole, displayed such a noble and unconquerable 
spirit, that I was frequently tempted to restore him to his native woods. 
He lived with me nearly three days, but refused all sustenance, and 
I witnessed his death with regret. 

The head and bill of this bird is in great esteem among the south- 
ern Indians, who wear them by way of amulet or charm, as well as 



276 IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER. 

ornament; and, it is said, dispose of them to the northern tribes at 
considerable prices. An Indian believes that the head, skin, or even 
feathers of certain birds, confer on the wearer all the virtues or excel- 
lences of those birds. Thus I have seen a coat made of the skins, 
heads, and claws of the Raven ; caps stuck round with heads of 
Butcher Birds, Hawks, and Eagles ; and as the disposition and courage 
of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker are well known to the savages, no 
wonder they should attach great value to it, having both beauty, and, 
in their estimation, distinguished merit to recommend it. 

This bird is not migratory, but resident in the countries where it in- 
habits. In the low countries of the Carolinas, it usually prefers the 
large-timbered cypress swamps for breeding in. In the trunk of one 
of these trees, at a considerable height, the male and female alter- 
nately, and in conjunction, dig out a large and capacious cavity for 
their eggs and young. Trees thus dug out have frequently been cut 
down, with sometimes the eggs and young in them. This hole, ac- 
cording to information, — for I have never seen one myself, — is 
generally a little winding, the better to keep out the weather, and 
from two to five feet deep. The eggs are said to be generally four, 
sometimes five, as large as a Pullet's, pure white, and equally thick at 
both ends — a description that, except in size, very nearly agrees 
with all the rest of our Woodpeckers. The young begin to be seen 
abroad about the middle of June. Whether they breed more than 
once in the same season is uncertain.* 

* The description of the nestling. &c., is thus also given by Audubon. Wilson 
observes that he had no opportunity of ever seeing their holes, and the following 
will tend to render his account more complete : — 

''■ The Ivory-billed Woodpecker nestles earlier in spring than any other species 
of its tribe. I have observed it boring a hole for that purpose in the beginning of 
March. The hole is, I believe, always made in the trunk of a live tree, generally 
an ash or a hagberry, and is at a great height. The birds pay great regard to the 
particular situation of the tree and the inclination of its trunk 5 first, because they 
prefer retirement, and again, because they are anxious to secure the aperture against 
the access of water during beating rains. To prevent such a calamity, the hole is 
generally dug immediately under the junction of a large branch with the trunk. It 
IS tirst bored horizontally for a few inches, then directly downwards, and not in a 
spiral manner, as some people have imagined. According to circumstances, this 
cavity is more or less deep, being sometimes not more than ten inches, whilst at 
other times it reaches nearly three feet downwards into the core of the tree. I 
have been led to think that tliese differences result from the more or less immediate 
necessity under which the female may be of depositing her eggs, and again have 
thoughtthat the older the Woodpecker is, the deeper does it niEilie its hole. The av- 
erage diameter of the different nests which I have examined, was about seven inches 
within, although the entrance, which is perfectly round, is only just large enough to 
admit the bird. 

" Both birds work most assiduously at this excavation, one waiting outside to en- 
couroge the other, whilst it is engaged in digging, and when the latter is fatigued, 
taking its place. I have approached trees whilst these Woodpeckers were thus 
busily employed in forming their nest, and by resting my head against the bark, 
f.ould easily clistinguish every blow given by the bird. 1 observed that in two in- 
stances, v/hen the Woodpecker saw me thus at the foot of the tree in which they 
were digging their nest, they abandoned it forever. For the first brood there are 
generally six eggs. They are deposited on a few chips at the bottom of the hole, 
and are of a pure white color. The young are seen creeping out of the hole about 
a fortnight before they venture to fly to any other tree. The second brood makes 
its appearance about the 15th of August. 



IVORY- BILLED WOODPECKER. 277 

So little attention do the people of the countries where these birds 
inhabit pay to the minutia3 of natural history, that, generally speaking, 
they make no distinction between the Ivory-billed and Pileated Wood- 
pecker, represented in tlie same plate ; and it was not till I showed 
them the two birds together, that they knew of any difference. The 
more intelligent and observing part of the natives, however, distin- 
guish them by the name of the Large nud hesser Logcocks. They sel- 
dom examine them but at a distance, gunpowder being considered too 
precious to be thrown away on Woodpeckers ; nothing less than a 
Turkey being thought worth the value of a load. 

" In Kentucky and Indiana, the Ivory-Bills seldom raise more than one brood in 
the season. The young- are at first of the color of the female, only that they want 
ihc crest, which, however, grows rapidly, and towards autumn — particularly in birds 
of the first breed — is nearly equal to that of the mother. The males have then a slight 
line of red on the head, and do not attain their richness of plumag-e until spring, or 
their full size until the second year. Indeed, even then, a difference is easily ob- 
served between them and individuals w Inch are much older. 

" The food of this species consists principally of beetles, larvae, and large grubs. 
No sooner, hov.ever, are the grapes of our forests ripe than they are eaten by the 
Ivory-billed Woodpecker with great avidity. I have seen this bird hang by its 
claw's to the vines, in the position so often assumed by a Titmouse, and, reaching 
downwards, help itself to a bunch of grapes with much apparent pleasure. Per- 
simmons are also sought for by them, as soon as the fruit becomes quite mellow, as 
are hagberries. 

"The Ivory-Bill is neverseen attackingthe corn, orthe fruit of the orchard, although 
it is sometimes observed working upon and chipping off the bark from the belted 
trees of the newly-cleared plantations. It seldom comes near the ground, but pre- 
fers at all times the tops of the tallest trees. Should it, however, discover the half- 
standing broken shaft of a large dead and rotten tree, it attacks it in such a manner 
as nearly to demolish it in the course of a few days. I have seen the remains of 
some of' these ancient monarchs of our forests so excavated, and that so sing-ularly, 
that the tottering frasrments of the trunk appeared to be merely supported by the great 
pile of chips liv which its base was surrounded. The strength of this Woodpecker 
is such, that I have seen it detach pieces of bark seven or eight inches in length at 
a single blow of its powerful bill, and by beginning at the top branch of a dead tree, 
tear off the bark, to an extent of twenty or thirty feet, in the course of a few hours, 
leaping downwards, with its body in an upward position, tossing- its head to the 
riffht and left, or leaning it against the bark to ascertain the precise spot where the 
grubs were concealed, and immediately after renewing- its blows with fresh vig-or, 
all the while sounding its loud notes, as if highly delighted. 

'*■ This species generally moves in pairs, after the young- have left their parents. 
The female is always the most clamorous and the least shy. Their mutual attach- 
ment is, I believe, continued through life. Excepting when digging a hole for the 
reception of their eggs, these birds seldom, if ever, attack living trees, for any 
other purpose than that of procuring food, in doing which they destroy the insects 
that would otherwise prove injurious to the trees. 

" I have frequently observed the male and female retire to rest for the night, into 
the same hole in which they had long before reared their young. This generally 
happens a short time after sunset. 

" When wounded and brought to the ground, the Ivory-Bill immediately makes 
for the nearest tree, and ascends it with great rapidity and perseverance until it 
reaches the top branches, when it squats and hides, generally with great effect. 
Whilst ascending, it moves spirally round the tree, utters its loud pait., pait, pait, 
at almost every hop, hmt becomes silent the moment it reaches a place where it 
conceives itself secure. They sometimes cling to the bark with their claws so firmly 
as to remain cramped to the spot for several hours after death. When taken by 
ihe hand, which is rather a hazardous undertaking, they strike with great violence, 
and inffict very severe wounds with their bill as well as claws, which arc extremely 
sharp and strong. On such occasions, this bird utters a mournful and very piteous 
cry." — Ed. 

24 



278 IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER. 

The food of this bird consists, 1 believe, entirely of insects and 
their larvae.* The Pileated Woodpecker is suspected of sometimes 
tasting the Indian corn ; the Ivory-billed never. His common note, 
repeated every three or four seconds, very much resembles the tone 
of a trumpet, or the high note of a clarionet, and can plainly be dis- 
tinguished at the distance of more than half a mile ; seeming to be 
immediately at hand, though perhaps more than one hundred yards off. 
This it utters while mounting along the trunk or digging into it. At 
these times it has a stately and novel appearance ; and the note in- 
stantly attracts the notice of a stranger. Along the borders of the 
Savannah River, between Savannah and Augusta, I found them very 
frequently ; but my horse no sooner heard their trumpet-like note, than, 
remembering his former alarm, he became almost ungovernable. 

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is twenty inches long, and thirty 
inches in extent; the general color is black, with a considerable gloss 
of green when exposed to a good light; iris of the eye, vivid yellow; 
nostrils, covered ^dth recumbent white hairs; fore part of the head, 
black ; rest of the crest, of a most splendid red, spotted at the bottom 
with white, which is only seen when the crest is erected, as represented 
in Fig. 135; this long red plumage being ash-colored at its base, 
above that white, and ending in brilliant red ; a stripe of white pro- 
ceeds from a point, about half an inch below each eye, passes down 
each side of the neck, and along the back, where they are about an 
inch apart, nearly to the rump; the first five primaries are wholly 
black; on the next five the white spreads from the tip, higher and 
higher, to the secondaries, which are Avholly white from their coverts 
downward. These markings, when the wings are shut, make the bird 
appear as if his back were white ; hence he has been called by some 
of our naturalists the large White-backed Woodpecker. The neck 
is long ; the beak an inch broad at the base, of the color and consis- 
tence of ivory, prodigiously strong and elegantly fluted. The tail is 
black, tapering from the two exterior feathers, which are three inches 
shorter than the middle ones, and each feather has the singularity of 
being greatly concave below; the wing is lined with yellowish white; 
the legs are about an inch and a quarter long, the exterior toe about 
the same length, the claws exactly semicircular and remarkably pow- 
erful, — the whole of a light blue or lead color. The female is about 
half an inch shorter, the bill rather less, and the whole plumage of the 
head black, glossed with green ; in the other parts of the plumage, she 
exactly resembles the male. In the stomachs of three which I opened, 
I found large quantities of a species of worm called borers, two or 
three inches long, of a dirty cream color, with a black head ; the 
stomach was an oblong pouch, not muscular, like the gizzards of some 

* Mr. Audubon says, that though the greater part of their food consists of insects 
and their larvse, no sooner are the grapes of our forests ripe, than they are eaten 
with the greatest avidity. I have seen this bird hang by its claws to the vines, in 
the position so often assumed by the Titmouse, and, reaching down, help itself to 
a bunch of grapes. Persimmons are also sought by them, as soon as the fruit be- 
comes quite mellow, and hagberries. — Ed. 



PILE ATE D WOODPECKER. 279 

Others. The tongue was worm-shaped, and for half an inch at the tip 
as hard as horn, flat, pointed, of the same white color as the bill, and 
thickly barbed on each side.* 



FILEATED WOODPECKER. — PICUS PILE ATUS. — Fig. 132. 

Picas nisrer, crista rubra, Lath. Lid. Orn. u p. 225, 4. — Picus pileatus, Linn. Syst. 
i. p. 173, 3. — G?nel. Sijst. i. p. 425. — Picus Virginianus pileatus, Briss. iv. p. 
29. 10. — LI. 8vo. ii. p. 50. — Pic noir a huppe rouge, B?/ff. vii. p. 48. — Pic noir 
huppe de la Louisiana, PL enl. 718. — Larger Crested Woodpecker, Catesb. Car. 
i. 6, 17. — Pileated Woodpecker, Arct. Zool. ii. No. Mil. — Lath. Syn. ii. p. 554, 
o.—Id. Supp. p. lOo. — Bartram, p. 289. — Peale's Museum, No. 1886. 

PICUS P/iE^r^/S. — LiNNiEus.T 

Picus pileatus, Bonap. Synop. p. 44. — Wao^l. Syst. Av. No. 2. — Picus (dryoto- 
mus) pileatus, North. Zool. ii. p. 304. 

This American species is the second in size among- his tribe, and 
may be styled the great northern chief of the Woodpeckers, though, 
in fact, his range extends over the whole of the United States from 
the interior of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. He is very numerous 
in the Genesee country, and in all the tracts of high-timbered forests, 
particularly in the neighborhood of our large rivers, where he is noted 
for making a loud and almost incessant cackling before wet weather, 
flying at such times in a restless, uneasy manner from tree to tree, 
making the woods echo to his outcry. In Pennsylvania and the North- 
ern States, he is called the Black Woodcock ; in the Southern States, 
the Logcock. Almost every old trunk in the forest where he resides 
bears the marks of his chisel. Wherever he perceives a tree beginning 
to decay, he examines it round and round with great skill and dexterity, 
strips off" the bark in sheets of five or six feet in length, to sret at the 
hidden cause of the disease, and labors with a gayety and activity 
really surprising. I have seen him separate the greatest part of the 
bark from a large, dead pine tree, for twenty or thirty feet, in less than 
a quarter of an hour. Whether engaged in flying from tree to tree, 
in digging, climbing, or barking, he seems perpetually in a hurry. He 
is extremely hard to kill, clinging close to the tree even after he has 
received his mortal wound ; nor yielding up his hold but with his ex- 
piring breath. If slightly wounded in the wing, and dropped while 

* Wilson seems to have been in some uncertainty regarding the nidification of 
this species, and probably never saw the nest. The account of 3Ir. Audubon will 
fill up what is here wanting. — Ed. 

t As we remarked in our last note, Mr. Swainson, according to the views he en- 
tertains, has divided the large family Picianm into five great divisions, and the 
difierent forms in these again into groups of lesser value. For the tvpe of one of 
them, he has chosen the Picus pileatus, under the title of Dniotomus ,'(]\tYcTing from 
Picus in the exterior outer toe being shorter than the anterior external one, exactly 
the reverse of the proportions of Picus. — Ed. 



280 PILEATED WOODPECKER. 

flying, he instantly makes for the nearest tree, and strikes with great 
bitterness at the hand stretched out to seize him ; and can rarely be 
reconciled to confinement. He is sometimes observed among tlie hills 
of Indian corn, and it is said by some that he frequently feeds on it. 
Complaints of this kind are, however, not general ; many farmers 
doubting the fact, and conceiving that at these times he is in search 
of insects which lie concealed in the busk. I will not be positive that 
they never occasionally taste maize ; yet I have opened and examined 
great numbers of these birds, killed in various parts of the United 
States, from Lake Ontario to the Alatamaha River, but never found a 
grain of Indian corn in their stomachs. 

The Pileated Woodpecker is not migratory, but braves the extremes 
of both the arctic and torrid regions. Neither is he gregarious, for it 
is rare to see more than one or two, or at the most three, in company. 
Formerly they were numerous in the neighborhood of Philadelphia; 
but gradually, as the old timber fell, and the country became better 
cleared, they retreated to the forest. At present few of those birds 
are to be found within ten or fifteen miles of the city. 

Their nest is built, or rather the eggs are deposited, in the hole of a 
tree, dug out by themselves, no other materials being used but the soft 
chips of rotten wood. The female lays six large eggs, of a snowy 
whiteness ; and, it is said, they generally raise two broods in the same 
season. 

This species is eighteen inches long, and twenty-eight in extent ; the 
general color is a dusky brownish black ; the head is ornamented witli a 
conical cap of bright scarlet; two scarlet mustaches proceed from the 
lower mandible ; the chin is white ; the nostrils are covered with 
brownish white, hair-like feathers, and this stripe of white passes from 
thence down the side of the neck to the sides, spreading under the 
v/ings ; the upper half of the wings is white, but concealed by the 
black coverts ; the lower extremities of the wings are black, so that 
the white on the wing is not seen but when the bird is flying, at which 
time it is very prominent ; the tail is tapering, the feathers being very 
convex above, and strong; the legs are of a leaden gray color, very 
short, scarcely half an inch ; the toes very long ; claws, strong and 
semicircular, and of a pale blue; the bill is fluted, sharply ridged, 
very broad at the base, bluish black above, below and at the point blu- 
ish white ; the eye is of a bright golden color, the pupil black ; the 
tongue, like those of its tribe, is worm-shaped, except near the tip, 
where for one eighth of an inch it is horny, pointed, and beset with 
barbs. 

The female has the forehead, and nearly to the crown, of a light 
brown color, and the mustaches are dusky, instead of red. In both, a 
fine line of white separates the red crest from the dusky line that passes 
over the eye. 



i 



RED-WINGED STARLING. 281 



RED-WINGED STARLING. — STURNUS PREDATORIUS.— 
Fig. 136, Male; Fig. 137, Female. 

Bartram, 29L — Oriolus phoeniceus, Linn. Sijst. IGl. — Rcd-wing-ed Oriole, Arct. 
Zool. 2o5, No. 140. — Le Troupiale a aisles ronse?,, Briss. ii. 97. — Le comman- 
deur, Buff. iii. 214, PZ. enl. 402. — Lath. i. 428. — Acolchichi, Femanrf. iVor. 
Hisp. p. 14. — Peak's Museum, No. 1466, 1467. 

AQL^aiUS PH(EJ\riCEUS. — YiEii.LOT.* 

Aglaius Phoeniceus, Vieill. Gall, des Ois. — North. Zool. ii. p. 280. — Icterus Thoe- 
niccus, Bonap. Synop. p. 52. — The Red-winged Starling, or Marsh Blackbird. 
Aud. pi. 67. male'in difl'erent states, female, and young; Orii. Biog. i. p. 348. 

This notorious and celebrated corn thief, the long-reputed plunderer 
and pest of our honest and laborious farmers, now presents himself 
before us, with his copartner in iniquity, to receive the character due 
for their very active and distinguished services. In investigating the 
nature of these, I shall endeavor to render strict historical justice to 
this noted pair; adhering to the honest injunctions of the poet — 

Nothing extenuate. 
Nor set down aught in malice. 

Let the reader divest himself equally of prejudice, and we shall be at 
no loss to ascertain accurately their true character. 

* This bird, I believe, will rank under the Icteri of Brisson, but seems first men- 
tioned by Daudin under that title. Like the others of this intricate family, it has 
been described under a multitude of names ; but the above seems the preferable 
one to be adopted. Wilson also changed the specific name to Predatorius, taken 
from its plundering habits, whereas, without doubt, he should have retained its ori- 
ginal designation. North America possesses another beautiful species, figured in 
the Continuation of the Ornithologij by Bonaparte. 

Wilson is somewhat puzzled inwhat genus to place this bird, and is only recon- 
ciled to join it with our Common Starling, which it much resembles in its congrega- 
ted flights. In this country, we cannot expect to see a flight of such numbers as 
Wilson mentions ; still they are sometimes very numerous, and one might almost 
conceive the appearance of the one, from their recollections of the other. In the 
low meadows of Holland, again, some relative proportion may be found. I have 
seen an extent of flat surface, as far as the eye could reach around, covered with 
flocks of Starlings, associated with Lapwings and Golden Plovers ; and the flocks 
that rose on the approach of night were sometimes immense. In the islands of 
Sardinia, and those adjacent, and where they may be augmented by the presence 
of another species, the St. unicolor of Temminck, I am told that the assemblage 
of birds is innumerable in the lower valleys, and among the lakes and reedy 
marshes which cover so much of the lower parts of these countries. In their evo- 
lutions before retiring to rest among reeds or bushes, the two birds also resemble 
each other. That of Europe is thus described by an observing naturalist : — " There 
is something singularly curious and mysterious in the conduct of these birds, pre- 
vious to their nightly retirement, by the variety and intricacy of the evolutions they 
execute at that lime. They will form themselves, perhaps, into a triangle, then 
shoot into a long, pear-shaped figure, expand like a sheet, wheel into a ball, as 
Pliny observes, each individual striving to get into the centre, &c., with a prompti- 
tude more like parade movements, than the action of birds." I have known them 
watched for, when coming to roost, and shot in considerable numbers. Their wings 
afford favorite feather for fishers. — Ed. 
24* 



282 RED-WINGED STARLING. 

The Red- winged Starlings, though generally migratory in the states 
north of Maryland, are found during winter in immense flocks, some- 
times associated with the Purple Grakles, and often by themselves, 
along the whole lower parts of Virginia, both Carolinas, Georgia, and 
Louisiana, particularly near the sea-coast, and in the vicinity of large 
rice and corn fields. In the months of January and February, while 
passing through the former of these countries, I was frequently enter- 
tained with the aerial evolutions of these great bodies of Starlings. 
Sometimes they appeared driving about like an enormous black cloud 
carried before the wind, varying its shape every moment ; sometimes 
suddenly rising from the fields around me with a noise like thunder ; 
while the glittering of innumerable wings of the brightest vermilion 
amid the black cloud they formed, produced on these occasions a very 
striking and splendid effect. Then, descending like a torrent, and 
covering the branches of some detached grove, or clump of trees, the 
whole congregated multitude commenced one general concert or 
chorus, that I have plainly distinguished at the distance of more than 
two miles, and, when listened to at the intermediate space of about a 
quarter of a mile, with a slight breeze of wind to swell and soften the 
flow of its cadences, was to me grand, and even sublime. The whole 
season of winter, that, with most birds, is passed in struggling to sustain 
life in silent melancholy, is, with the Red-Wings, one continued carni- 
val. The profuse gleanings of the old rice, corn, and buckwheat 
fields, supply them with abundant food, at once ready and nutritious ; 
and the intennediate time is spent either in aerial manoeuvres, or in 
grand vocal perfonnances, as if solicitous to supply the absence of all 
the tuneful summer tribes, and to cheer the dejected face of nature 
with their whole combined powers of harmony. 

About the 20th of March, or earlier, if the season be open, they 
begin to enter Pennsylvania in numerous, though small parties. These 
migrating flocks are usually observed from daybreak to eight or nine 
in the morning, passing to the north, chattering to each other as they 
fly along ; and, in spite of all our antipathy, their well-known notes 
and appearance, after the long and dreary solitude of winter, inspire 
cheerful and pleasing ideas of returning spring, warmth, and verdure. 
Selecting their old haunts, every meadow is soon enlivened by their 
presence. They continue in small parties to frequent the low borders 
of creeks, swamps, and ponds, till about the middle of April, when they 
separate in pairs to breed ; and, about the last week in April, or first 
in May, begin to construct their nest. The place chosen for tliis is 
generally within the precincts of a marsh or swamp, meadow, or other 
like watery situation, — the spot, usually a thicket of alder bushes, at 
the height of six or seven feet from the ground ; sometimes in a de- 
tached bush, in a meadow of high grass ; often in a tussock of rushes, 
or coarse, rank grass ; and not unfrequently on the ground ; in all of 
which situations I have repeatedly found them. When in a bush, they 
are generally composed outwardly of wet ruslies, picked from the 
swamp, and long, tough grass, in large quantity, and well lined with 
very fine bent. The rushes, forming the exterior, are generally ex- 
tended to several of the adjoining twigs, round which they are repeat- 
edly and securely twisted — a precaution absolutely necessary for its 
preservation, on account of the flexible nature of the bushes in which 



RED-WINGED STARLING. 283 

it is placed. The same caution is observed when a tussock is chosen, 
by fastening the tops together, and intertwining the materials of which 
the nest is formed Avith the stalks of rushes around. When placed on 
the ground, less care and fewer materials being necessary, the nest is 
much simpler and slighter than before. The female lays five eggs, of 
a very pale light blue, marked with faint tinges of light purple, and 
long, straggling lines and dashes of black. It is not uncommon to find 
several nests in the same thicket, within a few feet of each other. 

During the time the female is sitting, and still more particularly 
after the young are liatched, the male, like most other birds that build 
in low situations, exhibits the most violent symptoms of apprehension 
and alarm on the approach of any person to its near neighborhood. 
Like the Lapwing of Europe, he flies to meet the intruder, hovers at a 
short height overhead, uttering loud notes of distress ; and, while in 
this situation, displays to great advantage the rich, glowing scarlet of 
his wings, heightened by the jetty black of his general plumage. As 
the danger increases, his cries become more shrill and incessant, and 
his motions rapid and restless ; the whole meadow is alarmed, and a 
collected crowd of his fellows hover around, and mingle their notes of 
alarm and agitation with his. When the young are taken away, or 
destroyed, he continues for several days near the place, restless and 
dejected, and generally recommences building soon after, in the same 
meadow. Towards the beginning or middle of August, the young 
birds begin to fly in flocks, and at that age nearly resemble the female, 
with the exception of some reddish or orange, that marks the shoulders 
of the males, and which increases in space and brilliancy as winter 
approaches. It has been frequently remarked, that, at this time, the 
young birds chiefly associate by tliemselves, there being sometimes 
not more than two or three old males obseiTed in a flock of many 
thousands. These, from the superior blackness and rich red of their 
plumage, are very conspicuous. 

Before the beginning of September, these flocks have become nu- 
merous and formidable : and the young ears of maize, or Indian corn, 
being then in their soft, succulent, milky state, present a tem.ptation 
that cannot be resisted. Reenforced by numerous and daily flocks 
from all parts of the interior, they pour down on the low countries in 
prodigious multitudes. Here they are seen, like vast clouds, wheeling 
and driving over the meadows and devoted corn-fields, darkening tlie 
air with their numbers. Then commences the work of destruction on 
the corn, the husks of which, though composed of numerous envelop- 
ments of closely-wrapped leaves, are soon completely or partially torn 
off"; while from all quarters myriads continue to pour down like a 
tempest, blackening half an acre at a time ; and, if not disturbed, re- 
peat their depredations, till little remains but the cob and the shrivelled 
skins of the grain ; what little is left of the tender ear, being exposed 
to the rains and v/eather, is generally much injured. All the attacks 
and havock made at this time among them with the gun, and by the 
Hawks, — several species of which are their constant attendants, — 
has little effect on the remainder. When the Hawks make a sweep 
among them, they suddenly open on all sides, but rarely in time to 
disappoint them of their victims ; and, though repeatedly fired at, with 
mortal effect, they only remove from one field to an adjoining one, or 



284 RED-WINGED STARLING. 

to another quarter of the same enclosure. From dawn to nearly sun- 
set, this open and daring devastation is carried on, under the eye of 
the proprietor ; and a farmer, who has any considerable extent of corn, 
would require half-a-dozen men at least, with guns, to guard it ; and 
even then, all tlieir vigilance and activity would not prevent a good 
tithe of it from becoming the prey of the Blackbirds. The Indians, 
who usually plant their corn in one general field, keep the whole 
young boys of the village all day patrolling round and among it ; and 
each being furnished with boAv and arrows, with which they are very 
expert, they generally contrive to destroy great numbers of them. 

It must, however, be observed, that this scene of pillage is princi- 
pally carried on in the low countries, not far from the sea-coast, or 
near the extensive flats that border our large rivers ; and is also chiefly 
confined to the months of August and September. After this period, 
the corn having acquired its hard, shelly coat, and the seeds of the 
reeds or wild oats, with a profusion of other plants, that abound along 
the river shores, being now ripe, and in great abundance, tliey present 
a new and more extensive field for these marauding multitudes. The 
reeds also supply them with convenient roosting places, being often 
in almost unapproachable morasses ; and thither they repair every 
evening, from all quarters of the country. In some places, however, 
when the reeds become dry, advantage is taken of this circumstance, 
to destroy these birds, by a party secretly approaching the place, under 
cover of a dark night, setting fire to the reeds in several places at 
once, which being soon enveloped in one general flame, the uproar 
among the Blackbirds becomes universal ; and, by the light of the 
conflagration, they are shot down in vast numbers, while hovering and 
screaming over the place. Sometimes straw is used for the same 
purpose, being previously strewed near the reeds and alder bushes, 
where they are known to roost, which being instantly set on fire, the 
consternation and havock are prodigious ; and the party return by day 
to pick up the slaughtered game. About the first of November, they 
begin to move off" towards tlie south ; though, near the sea-coast, in 
the states of New Jersey and Delaware, they continue long after that 
period. 

Such are the general manners and character of the Red-winged 
Starling ; but there remain some facts to be mentioned, no less authen- 
tic, and well desei^ving the consideration of its enemies, more especially 
of those whose detestation of this species would stop at nothing short 
of total extirpation. 

It has been already stated, that they arrive in Pennsylvania late in 
March. Their general food at this season, as well as during the early 
part of summer, (for the Crows and Purple Grakles are the principal 
pests in planting time,) consists of grub-worms, caterpillars, and various 
other larvse, the silent, but deadly enemies of all vegetation, and whose 
secret and insidious attacks are more to be dreaded by the husband- 
man than the combined forces of the whole feathered tribes together. 
For these vermin, the Starlings search Avith great diligence, in the 
ground, at the roots of plants, in orchards, and meadows, as well as 
among buds, leaves, and blossoms ; and, from their known voracity, 
the multitudes of these insects which they destroy must be immense. 
Let me illustrate this by a short computation : If we suppose each 



RED-WINGED STARLING. 285 

bird, on an averag-e, to devour fifty of these larvae in a day, (a very 
moderate allowance,) a single pair, in four months, the usual time such 
food is sought after, will consume upwards of twelve thousand. It is 
believed that not less than a million pair of these birds are distributed 
over the whole extent of the United States in summer, whose food, 
being nearly tlie same, would SAvell the amount of vermin destroyed to 
twelve thousand millions. But the number of young birds may be 
fairly estimated at double that of their parents ; and, as these are 
constantly fed on larvsB for at least three Aveeks, making only the same 
allowance for them as for the old ones, their share would amount to 
four thousand two hundred millions ; making a grand total of sixteen 
thousand two hundred millions of noxious insects destroyed in the 
space of four months by tliis single species ! The combined ravages 
of such a hideous host of vermin would be sufficient to spread famine 
and desolation over a wide extent of the richest and best-cultivated 
country on earth. All this, it may be said, is mere supposition. It is, 
however, supposition founded on known and acknowledged facts. I 
have never dissected any of these birds in spring without receiving 
the most striking and satisfactory proofs of those facts ; and though, in 
a matter of this kind, it is impossible to ascertain precisely the amount 
of the benefits derived by agriculture from this, and many other species 
of our birds, yet, in the present case, I cannot resist the belief, that the 
services of this species, in spring, are far more important and beneficial 
than the value of all that portion of corn which a careful and active 
farmer permits himself to lose by it. 

The great range of country frequented by this bird extends from 
Mexico, on the south, to Labrador. Our late enterprising travellers 
across the continent to the Pacific Ocean, observed it numerous in 
several of the valleys at a great distance up the Missouri. When 
taken alive, or reared from the nest, it soon becomes familiar, sings 
frequently, bristling out its feathers, something in the manner of the 
Cow Bunting. These notes, though not remarkably various, are very 
peculiar. The most common one resembles the syllables conk-quer- 
ree ; others, the shrill sounds produced by filing a saw ; some are 
more guttural ; and others remarkably clear. The usual note of botli 
male and female is a single chuck. Instances have been produced 
where they have been taught to articulate several words distinctly ; 
and, contrary to what is observed of many l)irds, the male loses little 
of the brilliancy of his plumage by confinement. 

A very remarkable trait of this bird is, the great difference of size 
between the male and female ; the former being nearly two inches 
longer than the latter, and of proportionate magnitude. They are 
known by various names in the different states of the Union; such as 
the Swamp Blackbird, Marsh Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Corn 
or Maize Thief, Starling, &c. Many of them have been carried from 
this to different parts of Europe ; and Edwards relates, that one of 
them, which had, no doubt, escaped from a cage, was shot in the 
neighborhood of London ; and, on being opened, its stomach was 
found to be filled with grub-worms, caterpillars, and beetles ; which 
Buftbn seems to wonder^ at, as, "in their oAvn country," he observes, 
" they feed exclusively on grain and maize." 

Hitherto this species has been generally classed by naturalists with 



286 RED-WINGED STARLING. 

the Orioles. By a careful comparison, however, of its bill with those 
of that tribe, the similarity is by no means sufficient to justify this 
arrangement ; and its manners are altogetlier different. I can find no 
genus to which it makes so near an approach, both in the structure of 
the bill, and in food, flight, and manners, as those of the Stare ; with 
which, following my judicious friend Mr. Bartram, I have accordingly 
placed it. To the European, the perusal of the foregoing pages Avill 
be sufficient to satisfy him of their similarity oi manners. For the 
satisfaction of those who are unacquainted with the Conmion Starling 
of Europe, I shall select a few sketches of its character, from the 
latest and most accurate publication I have seen from that quarter.* 
Speaking of the Stare, or Starling, this writer observes, — " In tlie winter 
season, these birds fly in vast flocks, and may be known at a great 
distance by their whirling mode of flight, v^^hich Buffi^n compares to a 
sort of vortex, in which the collective body perfonns a uniform cir- 
cular revolution, and, at the same time, continues to make a progTes- 
sive advance. The evening is the time when the Stares assemble in 
the greatest numbers, and betake themselves to the fens and marshes, 
where they roost among the reeds : they chatter much in the evening 
and morning, both when they assemble and disperse. So attached are 
they to society, that they not only join those of their own species, but 
also birds of a different kind ; and are frequently seen in company 
with Red-Wings, (a species of Thrush,) Fieldfares, and even with 
Crows, Jackdaws, and Pigeons. Their principal food consists of 
worms, snails, and caterpillars ; they likewise eat various kinds of 
grain, seeds, and berries." He adds, that, '^ in a confined state, they 
are very docile, and may easily be taught to repeat short phrases, or 
whistle tunes with great exactness." 

The Red-winged Starling (Fig. 136) is nine inches long, and four- 
teen inches in extent ; the general color is a glossy black, with the 
exception of the whole lesser Aving-coverts, the first or lower row of 
which is of a reddish cream color, the rest a rich and splendid scarlet ; 
legs and bill, glossy brownish black ; irides, hazel ; bill, cylindrical 
above, compressed at the sides, straight, running considerably up the 
forehead, where it is prominent, rounding and flattish towards the tip, 
though sharp-pointed ; tongue, nearly as long as the bill, tapering, and 
lacerated at the end ; tail, rounded, the two middle feathers also some- 
what shorter than those immediately adjoining. 

The female (Fig. 137) is seven inches and a quarter in length, and 
twelve inches in extent ; chin, a pale reddish cream ; from the nostril 
over the eye, and from the lower mandible, run two stripes of the 
same, speckled with black ; from the posterior angle of the eye back- 
wards, a streak of brownish black covers the auriculars ; throat, and 
whole lower parts, tliickly streaked with black and white, the latter 
inclining to cream on the breast ; whole plumage above, black, each 
feather bordered witli pale broAvn, white, or bay, giving the bird a very 
mottled appearance ; lesser coverts, the same ; bill and legs as in the 
male. 

The young birds at first greatly resemble the female ; but have the 
plumage more broadly skirted with brown. The red early shows 

* Bewick's British Birds, part i. p. 119. Newcastle; 1809. 



BLACK-POLL WARBLER. 287 

itself on the lesser wing-coverts of the males, at first pale, inclining to 
orange, and partially disposed. The brown continues to skirt the 
black plumage for a year or two, so that it is rare to find an old male 
altogether destitute of some remains of it ; but the red is generally 
complete in breadth and brilliancy by tlie succeeding spring. The 
females are entirely destitute of that ornament. 

The flesh of these birds is but little esteemed, being, in general, 
black, dry, and tough. Strings of them are, however, fre^quently seen 
exposed for sale in our markets. 



BLACK-POLL WARBLER. — SYLVIA STRIATA. — Fig. 138. 

Lath. ii. iGO.—Arct. Zool. 40L — Tarion, 600. — Peale's Museum, No. 7054. 

SYLFICOLA STRMT^.* — SwAiysoy. 
Sylvia striata, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 8L — Sylvicola striata, North. Zool. ii. p. 218. 

This species has considerable affinity to the Flycatchers in its 
habits. It is chiefly confined to the woods, and even iJiere, to the tops 
of the tallest trees, where it is descried skipping from branch to 
branch, in pursuit of winged insects. Its note is a single screep, 
scarcely audible from below. It arrives in Pennsylvania about the 
20th of April, and is first seen on the tops of the highest maples, dart- 
ing about among the blossoms. As the Avoods thicken with leaves, it 
may be found pretty generally, being none of the least numerous of 
our summer birds. It is, however, most partial to woods in the im- 
mediate neighborhood of creeks, swamps, or morasses, probably from 
the greater number of its favorite insects frequenting such places. 
It is also pretty generally diflused over the United States, having my- 
self met with it in most quarters of the Union ; though its nest has 
hitherto defied all my researches. 

This bird may be considered as occupying an intermediate station 
between the Flycatchers and the Warblers, having the manners of the 
former, and the bill, partially, of the latter. The nice gradations by 
which nature passes from one species to another, even in this depart- 
ment of the great chain of beings, will forever baflle all the artificial 
rules and systems of man. And this truth every fresh discovery 
must impress more forcibly on the mind of the observing naturalist 
These birds leave us early in September. 

The Black-Poll Warbler is five and a half inches long, and eight 
and a half in extent ; crown and hind head, black ; cheeks, pure 
white ; from each lower mandible runs a streak of small black spots, 
those on the side, larger ; the rest of the lower parts, white ; primaries, 
black, edged with yellow ; rest of the wing, black, edged with ash ; 
tlie first and second row of coverts, broadly tipped with white ; back, 

* This is an aberrant Sijlvicola, approaching Setophaga in the form and bristhng 
of the bill, and also in the manners of the Flycatchers. — Ed. 



^8 LESSER REDPOLL. 

ash, tinged with yellow ochre, and streaked laterally with black ; tail, 
black, edged with ash, the three exterior feathers marked on the inner 
webs with white ; bill, black above, whitish below, furnished with 
bristles at the base ; iris, hazel ; legs and feet, reddish yellow. 
The female differs very little in plumage from the male. 



LESSER REDPOLL. — FRINGILLA LINARIA. — Fig. 139. 

Lath. ii. 305. — ^rc«. Zool. 379. —Le Sizeren, Buff. iv. 216. PL enl. 151, 2. — 
Peale's Museum, No. 6579. 

LIJ\rARIA MTJVOR. — Willoughbt. 

Fring-illa linaria, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 112. 

This bird corresponds so exactly in size, figure, and color of 
plumage, with that of Europe of the same name, as to place their 
identity beyond a doubt. They inhabit, during summer, the most 
northern parts of Canada, and still more remote northern countries, 
from whence they migrate at the commencement of winter. They 
appear in the Genesee country with the first deep snow, and on that 
account are usually called by the title of Snow Birds. As the female 
is destitute of the crimson on the breast and forehead, and the young 
birds do not receive that ornament till the succeeding spring, such a 
small proportion of the individuals that form these flocks are marked 
with red, as to induce a general belief among the inhabitants of those 
parts that they are two different kinds associated together. Flocks of 
these birds have been occasionally seen in severe winters in the 
neighborhood of Philadelphia. They seem particularly fond of the 
seeds of the common alder, and hang, head downwards, while feeding, 
in the manner of the Yellow-Bird. They seem extremely unsuspicious 
at such times, and will allow a very near approach without betraying 
any symptoms of alarm. 

The specimen represented in Fig. 139 was shot, with several others 
of both sexes, in Seneca county, between the Seneca and Cayuga 
lakes. Some individuals were occasionally heard to chant a few 
interrupted notes, but no satisfactory account can be given of their 
powers of song. 

This species extends throughout the whole northern parts of Europe, 
is likewise found in the remote wilds of Russia, was seen by Steller in 
Kamtschatka, and probably inhabits corresponding climates round tlie 
whole habitable parts of the northern hemisphere. In the Highlands 
of Scotland they are common, building often on the tops of tlie heath, 
sometimes in a low furze bush, like the Common Linnet, and sometimes 
on the ground. The nest is formed of light stalks of dried grass, 
intermixed with tufts of wool, and warmly lined with feathers. The 
eggs are usually four, white, sprinkled with specks of reddish.* 

* I havr; not })oen al)lo to procure American specimens of this bird ; but, com- 
paring the description of Wilson and of Ord, there seems little doubt of their 



LESSER REDPOLL. 289 

[Mr. Ord has added to the description of Wilson as follows : — 
" Contrary to the usual practice of Mr. Wilson, he omitted to furnish 
a particular description of this species. But tliis supplementary no- 
tice would not have been considered necessary, if our author had not 
fallen into a mistake respecting^ the markings of the female and the 
young male ; the former of which he describes as ' destitute of the 
crimson on the forehead,' and the latter ' not receiving that ornament 
till the succeeding spring.' When Mr. Wilson procured his speci- 
mens, it was in ttie autumn, previously to their receiving their perfect 
winter dress ; and he was never afterwards aAvare of his error, owing 

idemit}'. Wilson is certaijily confounding- the Mountain Linnet {L. montium,) 
when he says, " In the Higlilands of Scotland they are common, building often on 
the tops of "the heath, sometimes in a low furze bush, like the Common Linnet, and 
sometimes on the ground." This is exactly the habit of the Mountain Linnet, and 
Mr. Ord is wrong ni saying the young possess the crimson head 5 I have many in 
my possession without It, and have shot them at all seasons 5 they receive that 
mark at the commencement of the first breeding season, when the adult birds also 
receive an addition of plumage and lustre. They seem very fond of the beech, as 
well as of the birch and alder, and appear to find insects in the husks of the old mast, 
which they are constantly picking and looking into. I have found their nests also 
pretty frequently in a young fir plantation : it was in a low situation, but they were 
invariably lined with the wool of willow catkins. I shall here add Mr. Selby's cor- 
rect description of the manners of this species, which is in every way confirmed by 
my own observations. " It is only known in the southern parts of Britain as a winter 
visitant, and is at that period gregarious, and frequently taken in company with the 
other species by the bird-catchers, by whom it is called the Stone Redpoll. In the 
northern counties of England, and in Scodand and its isles, it is resident through 
the year. It retires, during the summer, to the underwood that covers the bases of 
many of our mountains and hills, and that often fringes the banks of their pre- 
cipitous streams, in which sequestered situations it breeds. The nest is built in a 
bush or low tree, (such as willow, alder, or hazel,) of moss and the stalks of dry 

f^rass, intermixed with down from the catkin of the willow, which also forms the 
ining, and renders it a particularly soft and warm receptacle for the eggs and 
young. From this substance being a constant material of the nest, it follows, that 
the young are produced late in the season, and are seldom able to fly before the 
end of June, or the beginning of July. The eggs are four or five in number; their 
color, pale bluish green, spotted with orange brown, principally towards the larg-er 
end. In winter, the Lesser Redpoll descends to the lower grounds, in considerable 
flocks, frequenting woods and plantations, more especially such as abound in birch 
or alder-trees, the catkins of which yield it a plentiful supply of food. When feed- 
ing, its motion affords both interest and amusement ; since, in order to reach the 
catkins, which generally grow near the extremities of the smaller branches, it is 
obliged, like the Titmouse, to hang with its back downwards, and assume a variety 
of constrained attitudes 5 and, when thus engaged, it is so intent upon its work, as 
frequently to allow itself to be taken by a long stick smeared with bird-lime, in 
which way I have occasionally captured it when in want of specimens for examina- 
tion. It also eats the buds of trees, and (when in flocks) proves in this way seri- 
ously injurious to young plantations. Its call note is very freauently repeated 
when on wing, and by this it may be always distinijuished from the other species. 
The notes it produces during the pairing season, although few, and not delivered 
in continuous song, are sweet and pleasing." 

" This bird is widely diffused through all the northern parts of Europe ; inhabits 
Northern Asia as far as Siberia and Kamtschatka 3 and is also abundant in North 
America." 

The authors of the Northern Zooloo^j describe another bird allied to the Linnets, 
of which one individual only was obtained in the last northern expedition. It is 
said to be new, and is described as Linaria (Leocosticte) Teprocotis, Sw. Gray- 
crowned Linnet. It is an aberrant form of-Linaria, which Mr. Swainson proposes 
to designate under the above sub-generic title. — Ed. 
25 



290 LESSER REDPOLL. 

to the circumstance of these birds seldom appearing in the neighbor- 
hood of Philadelphia. Considerable flocks of them, however, have 
visited us this winter, (1813-14 ;) and we have been enabled to pro- 
cure several fine specimens of both sexes, from the most perfect of 
which we have taken the following description. We will add, that 
having had the good fortune to observe a flock, consisting of nearly 
a hundred, within a few feet of them, as they were busily engaged 
in picking the seeds of the wild orache,* we can, with confidence, as- 
sert, that they all had the red patch on the crown ; but there were 
very few which had the red rump and breast : the young males, it is 
probable, are not thus marked until the spring, and the females are 
destitute of that ornament altogether. 

" The Lesser Redpoll is five inches and a quarter in length, and 
eight inches and a half in breadth ; the bill is pale yellow, ridged 
above and below with dark horn color, the upper mandible projecting 
somewhat over the lower at the tip ; irides, dark hazel ; the nostrils 
are covered with recumbent, hair-like feathers, of drab color ; a line 
of brov.^n extends from the eyes, and encircles the base of the bill, 
fonning, in some specimens, a patch below the chin ; the crown is 
ornamented with a pretty large spot of deep, shining crimson ; the 
tliroat, breast, and rump, stained with the same, but of a more delicate 
red ; the belly is of a very pale ash, or dull white ; the sides are 
streaked with dusky ; the whole upper parts are brown or dusky ; the 
plumage, edged with yellowish white and pale ash, the latter most 
predominant near the rump ; wings and tail, dusky ; the latter is 
forked, and consists of twelve feathers edged with white ; the prima- 
ries are very slightly tipped and edged with white, the secondaries 
more so ; the greater and lesser coverts are also tipped with white, 
forming the bars across the wings ; thighs, cinereous ; legs and feet, 
black ; hind claw, considerably hooked, and longer than tlie rest. The 
female is less bright in her plumage above ; and her under parts in- 
cline more to an ash color ; the spot on her crown is of a golden 
crimson, or reddish saffron color. One male specimen was considera- 
bly larger than the rest ; it measured five inches and three quarters in 
length, and nine inches and a quarter in extent ; the breast and rump 
were tawny ; its claws Avere uncommonly long ; the hind one measured 
nearly three eighths of an inch ; and the spot on the croAvn was of a 
darker hue than that of the rest. 

" The call of this bird exactly resembles that of the Frmgilla 
tristis, or Common Yellow-Bird of Pennsylvania. The Redpolls lin- 
ger in the neighborhood of Philadelphia until about the middle of 
April ; but whither they retire for the business of incubation, we can- 
not determine. In common with almost all our Finches, the Redpolls 
become very fat, and are then accounted delicious eating. During 
the last winter, many hundreds of them were exposed to sale in the 
Philadelphia market, and were readily purchased by those epicures, 
whose love of variety permits no delicacy to escape them."] 

* Atriplex hastata, Linn. 





i ^. 



AMERICAN CROSSBILL. 291 



AMERICAN CROSSBILL. — CURVIROSTRA AMERICANA.— 
Fig. 140, Male; Fig. 141, Female. 

Peate's Museum, No. 5G40. 

LOXM CURVIROSTRA 1 — BoviAV.KRTE.* 

Loxia curvirostra, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 117. 

On first glancing at the bill of this extraordinary bird, one is apt to 
pronounce it deformed and monstrous ; but on attentively observing 
the use to which it is applied by the owner, and the dexterity with 
which he detaches the seeds of the pine-tree from the cone, and from 

* Brisson first limited the Crossbills to a genus, and proposed for them the title 
Loxia, which has been adopted by most ornitholog-ists. Crucirostra and Curxn- 
rostra have also been formed for it from the shape of the bill ; but ought to be 
rejected, from the priority of the former. They are a very limited group, being 
composed of at most four species, provided that of America be proved distinct, or 
one differing from those of Europe be found in the former continent. Their distribu- 
tion appears to extend pretty generally over the north of Europe, decreasing in 
numbers to the south, and over North America. In form, all the members are 
similar. They are endowed with considerable power of flight ; are of a thick, 
stout make, aiid in addition to the curiously-formed bill, possess scansorial habits, 
using their bills and feet to disengage the seeds from the fir cones, when in confine- 
ment, holding their food like a Parrot in the latter member, and by the same means 
climbing about the wires of the cage. 

Regarding the identity of our author's species with that of this country, I am 
uncertain, not having a specimen of the bird from America. Wilson thinks it dis- 
tinct, and I ha\e been told the same thing by Audubon. On the other hand, we 
have the authority of Bonaparte, who thus writes in his Observations on Wilson's 
Nomenclature : — " I think Wilson was in error when he considered this bird a new 
species, and stated that it differs considerably from the European. He probably 
compared it with the L. pytiopsittacus, and not with the cumrostra, with which 
latter it is identical. Wilson's new names must therefore be rejected, and the name 
of Loxia curvirostra must be restored to this bird." Our author was also incor- 
rect in remarking, that '' the young males, as is usual with most other birds, very 
much resemble the female." The fact is, that the young of all the Crossbills, as 
well as that of Pyrrhula enucleator, contrary to the habit of the generality of birds, 
lose their red color as they advance in age, instead of gaining an additional bril- 
liancy of plumage. The figure (140) which our author gives as that of an adult male, 
represents a young bird of about one year, and his supposed female (Fig. 141) is a 
remarkably fine adult male. 

The species of this group, then, are, — L. pytiopsittacus, or Parrot-billed Cross- 
bill of Europe, and which Bonaparte also hints the possibilit}' of finding in America, 
a circumstcmce I should think very likely, — the L. leucoptera, and the L. curvi- 
rostra; but I fear we must remain uncertain whether the last constitutes one or 
two, until the examination of numerous specimens from both countries decide the 
point. The haunts of our common species in Europe are the immense northern 
pine forests, where their chief food is the seeds of the fir cones ; from thence, after 
breeding, they appear to migrate to various parts southward, in comparatively 
small flocks, at uncertain internals. This is the case with those which visit Britain. 
They must hatch very early, arriving in this country by the middle of June ; the 
females at that time bear all the marks of incubation, but have never yet been 
authentically proved to breed in this country, as supposed by Mr. Knap, from the 
bsureness of the breast. They descend, at the same season, to the orchards, where 
ihey do considerable damage, by splitting the apples for the pips, thus leaving the 
fruit useless, and incapable of further growth ; and, at the same time, giving us a 



292 AMERICAN CROSSBILL. 

the husks that enclose them, we are obliged to confess, on this, as on 
many other occasions, where we have judged too hastily of the opera- 
tions of Nature, that no other conformation could have been so excel- 
lently adapted to the purpose ; and that its deviation from the common 
form, instead of being a defect or monstrosity, as the celebrated 
French naturalist insinuates, is a striking proof of the wisdom and 
kind, superintending care of the great Creator. 

This species is a regular inhabitant of almost all our pine forests 
situated north of 40°, from the beginning of September to the middle 
of April. It is not improbable that some of them remain during sum- 
mer within the territory of the United States to breed. Their num- 
bers must, however, be comparatively few, as I have never yet met 
with any of them in summer ; though lately I took a journey to the 
Great Pine Swamp beyond Pocano Mountain, in Northampton county, 
Pennsylvania, in the month of May, expressly for that purpose ; and 
ransacked, for six or seven days, the gloomy recesses of that exten- 
sive and desolate morass, without being able to discover a single 
Crossbill. In fall, however, as well as in winter and spring, this tract 
appears to be their favorite rendezvous ; particularly about the head 
waters of the Lehigh, the banks of the Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock, and 
Bear Creek, where I have myself killed them at these seasons. They 
then appear in large flocks, feeding on the seeds of the hemlock and 
white pine, have a loud, sharp, and not unmusical note ; chatter as 
they fly ; alight, during the prevalence of deep snows, before the door 
of the hunter, and around the house, picking off the clay with which 
the logs are plastered, and searching in corners where urine, or any 
substance of a saline quality, had been throAvn. At such times they are 
so tame as only to settle on the roof of the cabin when disturbed, and 
a moment after descend to feed as before. They are then easily 
caught in traps ; and will frequently permit one to approach so near as 
to knock them down with a stick. Those killed and opened at such 

good instance of the power of their bills. Some old writers accuse them of visiting 
VVorcester and Herefordshire, " in great flocks, for the sake of the seeds of the 
apple. Repeated persecution on this account perhaps lessened their numbers, and 
their depredations at the present day are unnoticed or unknown : " their visitations, 
at least, are less frequent ; for a later writer in Loudon's Matrazine observes, that, 
in 1821, and the commencement of 1822, (the same season of their great appearance 
mentioned by Mr. Selby,) a large flock of Crossbills frequented some fir groves at 
Colhoridge, near Worcester, where they used to visit the same spot pretty regu- 
larly twice a day, delighting chiefly on the Weymouth pines. When feeding, they 
seem in this country, as well as with our author, to be remarkably tame, or so 
much engrossed with their food, as to be unmindful of danger. Montague relates, 
that a bird-catcher at Bath had taken a hundred pairs in the month of June and 
July, 1791 ; and so intent were these birds when jjicking out the seeds of a cone, 
that they would suflier themselves to be caught with a hair noose at the end of a 
long fishing-rod. In 1821, this coimtry was" visited with large flocks; they ap- 
peared in June, and gradually moved northward, as they were observed by Mr. 
Selby in September among the fir tracts of Scotland, after they had disappeared to 
tJie southward of the River Tweed. In 1828. a pretty large flock visited the 
vicinit}' of Ambleside, Westmoreland. Their favorite haunt was a plantation of 
young larches, where they might be seen disponing almost every day, particularly 
between the hours of eleven and one. 

I have quoted no synonymes which belong to our British species. The American 
birds appear to me much smaller ; that is, to judge from our author's plate, and the 
■sually correct drawings of Mr. Audubon. — Ed. 



AMERICAN CROSSBILL. 293 

times are generally found to have the stomach filled with a soft, greasy- 
kind of earth or clay. When kept in a cage, they have many of the 
habits of the Parrot ; often climbing along tiie wires ; and using their 
feet to grasp the cones in, while taking out the seeds. 

This same species is found in Nova Scotia, and as far north as 
Hudson's Bay, arriving at Severn River about the latter end of May ; 
and, according to accounts, proceeding farther north to breed. It is 
added by Pennant, that " they return at the first setting in of frost" 

Hitherto this bird has, as usual, been considered a mere variety of 
the European species ; though differing from it in several respects, 
and being nearly one third less, and although the singular conforma- 
tion of the bill of these birds, and their peculiarity of manners, are 
strikingly different from those of the Grosbeaks, yet many, disregard- 
ing these plain and obvious discriminations, still continue to consider 
them as belonging to the genus Loxia ; as if the particular structure 
of the bill should, in all cases but this, be the criterion by which to 
judge of a species ; or perhaps, conceiving themselves the wiser of 
the two, they have thought proper to associate together what Nature 
has, in tlie most pointed manner, placed apart. 

In separating these birds, therefore, from the Grosbeaks, and class- 
ing them as a family by themselves, substituting the specific for the 
generic appellation, I have only followed the steps and dictates of 
tiiat great Original, wliose arrangements ought never to be disre- 
garded by any who would faithfully copy her. 

The Crossbills are subject to considerable changes of color ; the 
young males of the present species being, during the first season, 
olive yellow, mixed with ash ; then bright greenish yellow, intermixed 
with spots of dusky olive, all of which yellow plumage becomes, in 
the second year, of a light red, having the edges of the tail inclin- 
ing to yellow. When confined in a cage, they usually lose the red 
color at the first moulting, that tint changing to a brownish yellow, 
which remains permanent. The same circumstance happens to the 
Purple Finch and Pine Grosbeak, both of which, when in confinement, 
exchange their brilliant crimson for a motley garb of light brownish 
yellow; as I have had frequent opportunities of observing. 

The male of this species, Avhen in perfect plumage, is five inches 
and tliree quarters long, and nine inches in extent ; the bill is a 
brown horn color, sharp, and single-edged towards the extremity, 
where the mandibles cross each other; the general color of the plu- 
mage is a red-lead color, brightest on the rump, generally intermixed 
on the other parts with touches of olive ; wings and tail, brown black, 
the latter forked, and edged with yellow ; legs and feet, brown ; claws, 
large, much curved, and very sharp ; vent, Avhite, streaked with dark 
ash ; base of the bill, covered with recumbent down, of a pale brown 
color; eye, hazel. 

The female is rather less than the male ; the bill of a paler horn color ; 
rump, tail-coverts, and edges of the tail, golden yellow ; wings and 
tail, dull brownish black ; the rest of the plumage, olive yellow mixed 
with ash ; legs and feet, as in the male. The young males, during the 
first season, as is usual with most other birds, very much resemble the 
female. In moulting, the males exchange their red for brownish yel- 
low, which gradually brightens into red. Hence, at different seasons, 
they differ greatly in color. 
25* 



294 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL. 



WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL. — CURVIROSTRA 
LEUCOPTERA. — Tig. 142. 

Turton, Syst. i. p. 515. 

LOXM LEUCOPTER^. — Ga^LiTi* 

Loxia leucoptera, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 117. 

This is a much rarer species than the preceding; though found 
frequenting the same places, and at the same seasons ; differing, how- 
ever, from the former in the deep black wings and tail, the large bed 
of white on the wing, the dark crimson of the plumage ; and a less 
and more slender conformation of body. The bird represented in 
Fig. 142 was shot in the neighborhood of the Great Pine Swamp, in 
the month of September, by my friend Mr. Ainsley, a German 
naturalist, collector in this country for the emperor of Austria. The 
individual of this species mentioned by Turton and Latham, had 
evidently been shot in moulting time. The present specimen was a 
male in full and perfect plumage. 

The White-winged Crossbill is five inches and a quarter long, and 
eight inches and a quarter in extent ; wings and tail, deep black, the 
former crossed with two broad bars of white ; general color of the 
plumage, dark crimson, partially spotted with dusky ; lores and frontlet, 
pale brown ; vent, white, streaked with black ; bill, a brown horn color, 
tlie mandibles crossing each other as in the preceding species, the 
lower sometimes bending to the right, sometimes to the left, usually 
to the left in the male, and to the right in the female, of the American 
Crossbill. The female of the present species will be introduced as 
soon as a good specimen can be obtained, with such additional facts 
relative to their manners as may then be ascertained. 

* Bonaparte has fulfilled Wilson's promise, and figured the female of this spe- 
cies, with some valuable remarks regarding its first discovery and habits. From 
these it appears to be very like its congeners, performing its migrations at uncer- 
tain periods and in various abundance, enjoying the pine forests, though not further 
known by any destructive propensities among orchards. It may be looked upon 
yet as exclusively North American. The only record of its being found in another 
country is in extracts from the minute-book of the Linnsean Society for 1803. " Mr. 
Templeton. A. L. S., of Orangegrove, near Belfast, in a leUer to Mr. Dawson Tur- 
ner, F. L. S., mentions, that the White-winged Crossbill, Loxia falcirostra of 
Latham, was shot within two miles of Belfast, in the month of January, 1802. It 
was a female, and perfectly resembled the figure in Dixon's Voyage to the North- 
west Coast of America." Such is the only record we have of this bird as a British 
visitor. When Ireland becomes more settled, and her naturalists more devoted to 
actual observation, we may hear more of L. leucoptera, Ctjpselus melba, &c. Bona- 
parte, in his description of the female, has entered fully into the reasons for adopting 
the specific name oi leucoptera. — Ed. 



WHITE-CROWNED BUNTING. 295 



WHITE-CROWNED BUNTING. —EMBERIZA LEUCOPHRYS. 

— Fig. 143. 

Turton, Sijst. p. 536. — Pea/e'* Museum, No. 6587. 

ZOJ^'OTRICHM LEUCOPHRYS. — Swainson. 

Fringilla leucophrys, Bonap. Sijnop. p. 107. — Fringilla (Zonotrichia) leucophrys, 
JVorih. Zool. ii. p. 253. 

This beautifully-marked species is one of the rarest of its tribe in 
the United States, being chiefly confined to the northern districts, or 
higher interior parts of the country, except in severe winters, when 
some few wanderers appear in the lower parts of the state of Pennsyl- 
vania. Of three specimens of this bird, the only ones I have yet m.et 
with, the first was caught in a trap near the city of New York, and 
lived with me several months. It had no song, and, as I afterwards 
discovered, was a female. Another, a male, was presented to me 
by Mr. Michael of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The third, a male, and 
in complete plumage, was shot in the Great Pine Swamp, in the month 
of May, and is faithfully represented in Fig. 143. It appeared to me 
to be unsuspicious, silent, and solitary ; flitting in short flights among 
the underwood and piles of prostrate trees, torn up by a tornado, that 
some years ago passed through the swamp. All my endeavors to dis- 
cover the female or nest were unsuccessful. 

From the great scarcity of this species, our acquaintance with its 
manners is but very limited. Those persons who have resided near 
Hudson's Bay, where it is common, inform us, that it makes its nest 
in June, at the bottom of willows, and lays four chocolate-colored eggs. 
Its flight is said to be short and silent ; but, when it perches, it sings 
very melodiously.* 

The White-crowned Bunting is seven inches long, and ten inches 
in extent; the bill, a cinnamon brown; crown, from the front to the 
hind head, pure white, bounded on each side by a stripe of black 
proceeding from each nostril ; and these again are bordered by a stripe 
of pure white passing over each eye to the hind head, where they 
meet ; below this, another narrow stripe of black passes from the pos- 
terior angle of the eye, widening as it descends to the hind head ; chin, 
%vhite ; breast, sides of the neck, and upper parts of the same, very 
pale ash ; back, streaked laterally Avith dark rusty brown and pale 
bluish white ; wings, dusky, edged broadly with brown ; the greater 
and lesser coverts tipped broadly with white, forming two handsome 
bands across the wing ; tertials, black, edged with brown and white ; 
rump and tail-coverts, drab, tipped with a lighter tint ; tail, long, 
rounded, dusky, and edged broadly with drab ; belly, white ; vent, pale 
yellow ochre ; legs and feet, reddish brown ; eye, reddish hazel ; lower 
eyelid, white. 

The female may easily be distinguished from the male, by the white 

* Arctic Zoology. 



296 BAY-WLNGED BUNTING. 

on the head being less pure, the black also less in extent, and the ash 
on the breast darker ; she is also smaller in size. 

There is a considerable resemblance between this species and the 
White-throated SparroAv, already described in this work. Yet they 
rarely associate together ; the latter remaining in the lower parts of 
Pennsylvania in great numbers, until the beginning of May, when 
they retire to the north and to the high inland regions to breed ; the 
former inhabiting much more northern countries, and, though said to 
be common in Canada, rarely visiting this part of the United States. 



BAY-WINGED BUNTING — EMBEKIZ A GRAMINEA.— 
Fig. 144. 

Grass Finch, Arct. Zool. No. 253. — Laih. iii. 273. — Turion, Syst. i. p. 565. 

ZO^rOTRICHM OIUMIJVEJl.—Swjiiysoy. 

Fringilla graminea, Bonap. Synop. p. 108. — Frino^illa (Zonotrichia) graminea, 
North. Zool. ii. p. 254. 

The manners of this bird bear great affinity to those of the Common 
Bunting of Britain. It delights in frequenting grass and clover fields, 
perches on the tops of the fences, singing, from the middle of April to 
the beginning of July, with a clear and pleasant note, in which par- 
ticular it far excels its European relation. It is partially a bird of 
passage here, some leaving us, and others remaining with us during 
the winter. In the month of March I observed tliem numerous in the 
lower parts of Georgia, where, according to Mr. Abbot, tliey are only 
winter visitants. They frequent the middle of fields more tlian 
hedges or thickets ; run along the ground like a Lark, which they 
also resemble in the great breadth of their wings. They are timid 
birds, and rarely approach the fann-house. 

Their nest is built on the ground, in a grass or clover field, and 
formed of old withered, leaves and dry grass, and lined with hair. 
The female lays four or five eggs, of a grayish white. On tlie first 
week in May, I found one of their nests with four young, from which 
circumstance I tliink it probable tliat they raise two or more broods 
in the same season. 

This bird measures five inches and three quarters in length, and ten 
inches and a half in extent ; the upper parts are cinereous brown, mot- 
tled with deep brown or black ; lesser wing-coverts, bright bay ; 
greater, black, edged with very pale brown ; wings, dusky, edged with 
brown ; the exterior primary, edged with white ; tail, sub-cuneiform, 
the outer feather white on the exterior edge, and tipped witli white ; 
the next, tipped and edged for half an incTi witli the same ; tlie rest, 
dusky, edged with pale brown ; bill, dark brown above, paler below ; 
round the eye is a narrow circle of white ; upper part of the breast, 
yellowish white, thickly streaked with pointed spots of black tliat pass 



SNOW OWL. 297 

along the sides ; belly and vent, white ; legs and feet, flesh colored ; 
third wing-feather from tlie body, nearly as long as the tip of tlie wing 
Avhen shut. 

I can perceive little or no difference between the colors and mark- 
ings of the male and female. 



SNOW OWL.— STRIX NYCTEA. — Fig. 145. —Male. 

Lath. i. 132. No. \1.—Bi,ff. i. 387.— Great White Owl, Edw. Gl. —Snowy Owl, 
Arct. Zool. 233, No. \1\. — Peak's Museum, No. 458. 

suRJ\rM jvrcr^.^. — DuMERiL. 

Snowy Owl, Mont. Orn. Dirt. Supp. — Bewick's Brit. Birds, Supp. — Snowy Owl, 
Strix nyclea, Selby's Brit. Orn. p. 58, pi. 23. — Strix nyctea, Temrn. Man. i. 
p. 82. — Fiem. Br. Anim. p. 58. — Bonap. Synop. p. 36. — North. Zool. ii. p. 88. 

This great northern hunter inhabits the coldest and most dreary 
regions of the northern hemisphere on both continents. The forlorn 
mountains of Greenland, covered with eternal ice and snows, where, 
for nearly half the year, the silence of death and desolation might 
almost be expected to reign, furnish food and shelter to this hardy 
adventurer; whence he is only driven by the extreme severity of 
weather towards the sea-shore. He is found in Lapland, Norway, and 
the country near Hudson's Bay, during the whole year ; is said to be 
common in Siberia, and numerous in Kamtschatka. He is often seen 
in Canada and the northern districts of the United States ; and some- 
times extends his visits to the borders of Florida. Nature, ever 
provident, has so effectually secured this bird from the attacks of cold, 
that not even a point is left exposed. The bill is almost completely 
hid among a mass of feathers that cover the face ; the legs are clotlied 
with such an exuberance of long, thick, hair-like plumage, as to appear 
nearly as large as those of a middle-sized dog, nothing being visible 
but the claws, which are large, black, much hooked, and extremely 
sharp. The whole plumage below the surface is of the most exqui- 
sitely-soft, warm, and elastic kind, and so closely matted together as to 
make it a difficult matter to penetrate to the skin. 

The usual food of this species is said to be hares, grouse, rabbits, 
ducks, mice, and even carrion. Unlike most of his tribe, he hunts by 
day as well as by twilight, and is particularly fond of frequenting the 
shores and banks of shallow rivers, over the surface of which he slowly 
sails, or sits on a rock a little raised above the water, watching for fish. 
These he seizes with a sudden and instantaneous stroke of the foot, 
seldom missing his aim. In the more southern and thickly-settled 
parts, he is seldom seen ; and when he appears, his size, color, and 
singular aspect, attract general notice.* 

* The following^ observations by Mr. Bree, of Allesly, taken from Loudon's Mag- 
azine of Natural History, will show that other Owls also fish for their prey: — 



298 SNOW OWL. 

In the month of October, I met with this bird on Oswego River, 
INew York state, a little below the Falls, vigilantly watching for fish. 
At Pittsburg, in the month of February, I saw another, which had 
been shot in the wing some time before. At a place on the Ohio 
called Long Reach, I examined another, which was the first ever 
recollected to have been seen there. In the town of Cincinnati, state 
of Ohio, two of these birds alighted on the roof of the court-house, and 
alarmed the whole town. A people more disposed to superstition 
would have deduced some dire or fortunate prognostication from their 
selecting such a place ; but the only solicitude was how to get pos- 
session of them, which, after several volleys, was at length effected. 
One of these, a female, I afterwards examined, when on my way 
through that place to New Orleans. Near Bairdstown, in Kentucky, 
I met with a large and very beautiful one, which appeared to be alto- 
gether unknown to the inhabitants of that quarter, and excited general 
surprise. A person living on the eastern shore of Maryland shot one 
of these birds, a few months ago, a female ; and, having stuffed the 
skin, brought it to Philadelphia, to Mr. Peale, in expectation, no doubt, 
of a great reward. I have examined eleven of these birds, within 
these fifteen months last past, in diflferent and very distant parts of the 
country, all of which were shot either during winter, late in the fall, or 
early in spring ; so that it does not appear certain whether any remain 
during summer within the territory of the United States ; though I 
think it highly probable that a few do, in some of the more northern 
inland parts, where they are most numerous during winter. 

The color of this bird is well suited for concealment, while roaming 
over the general waste of snows ; and its flight strong and swift, very 
similar to that of some of our large Hawks. Its hearing must be ex- 
quisite, if we judge from the largeness of these organs in it; and its 
voice is so dismal that, as Pennant observes, it adds horror even to the 
regions of Greenland by its hideous cries, resembling those of a man 
in deep distress. 

The male of this species measures twenty-two inches and a half in 
length, and four feet six inches in breadth ; head and neck, nearly 
white, with a few small dots of dull brown interspersed ; eyes, deep 
sunk under projecting eyebrows, the plumage at their internal angles 
fluted or pressed in, to admit direct vision ; below this, it bristles up, 
covering nearly the whole bill ; the irides are of the most brilliant 
golden yellow, and the countenance, from the proportionate smallness 
of the head, projection of the eyebrow, and concavity of the plumage 
at the angle of the eye, very different from that of any other of the 
genus ; general color of the body, white, marked with lunated spots of 

^^ Probably it may not be generally known to naturalists that the Common Brown 
Owl {Strix stridula) is in the habit, occasionally, at least, of feeding- its young with 
live fish — a fact which I have ascertained beyond doubt. Some years since, sev- 
eral young Owls were taken from the nest, and placed in a yew-tree, in the rectory 
garden here. In this situation, the parent birds repeatedly brought them live fish, 
bull-heads, {Cottus gobbius,) and loach, (Cobitis barbatula,) which had doubtless 
been procured from a neighboring brook, in which these species abound. Since the 
above period, I have, upon more than one occasion, found the same fish, either 
whole or in fragments, lying under the trees on which I have observed the young 
Owls to perch after they have left the nest, and where the old birds were accus- 
tomed to feed them." — Ed. 



SNOW OWL. 299 

pale brown above, and with semicircular dashes below ; femoral feath- 
ers, long, and legs covered, even over the claws, with long, shaggy, 
hair-like down, of a dirty white ; the claws, when exposed, appear 
large, much hooked, of a black color, and extremely sharp pointed ; 
back, white ; tail, rounded at the end, white, slightly dotted with pale 
brown near the tips ; wings, when closed, reach near the extremity of 
the tail ; vent-feathers, large, strong-shafted, and extending also to 
the point of the tail ; upper part of the breast and belly, plain white ; 
body, very broad and flat. 

The female, which measures two feet in length, and five feet two 
inches in extent, is covered more thickly witli spots of a much darker 
color than those on the male ; tlie chin, throat, face, belly, and vent, 
are white ; femoral feathers, white, long, and shaggy, marked with a 
few heart-shaped spots of brown ; legs, also covered to the claws with 
long, white, hairy doAvn ; rest of the plumage, white, every feather 
spotted or barred with dark brown, largest on the wing-quills, where 
they are about two inches apart ; fore part of the crown, thickly 
marked with roundish, black spots ; tail, crossed with bands of broad, 
brownish spots ; shafts of all the plumage, white ; bill and claws, as 
in the male, black ; third and fourth wing-quill, the longest ; span of 
the foot, four inches. 

From the various individuals of these birds which I have examined, 
I have reason to believe that the male alone approaches nearly to 
white in his plumage, the female rarely or never. The bird from 
which Fig. 145 was drawn was killed at Egg Harbor, New Jersey, in 
the month of December. The conformation of the eye of this bird 
forms a curious and interesting subject to the young anatomist. The 
globe of the eye is immovably fixed in its socket by a strong, elastic, 
hard, cartilaginous case, in form of a truncated cone ; this case, being 
closely covered with a skin, appears, at first, to be of one continued 
piece ; but, on removing the exterior membrane, it is found to be 
formed of fifteen pieces, placed like the staves of a cask, overlapping 
a little at the base, or narrow end, and seem as if capable of being 
enlarged or contracted, perhaps by the muscular membrane Avith 
which they are encased. In five other different species of Owls, 
which I liave since examined, I found nearly the same conformation 
of this organ, and exactly the same number of staves. The eye being 
thus fixed, these birds, as they view different objects, are always 
obliged to turn the head ; and Nature has so excellently adapted their 
neck to this purpose, that they can, with ease, turn it round, without 
moving the body, in almost a complete circle.* 

* In prefixing' the generic appellations to this curious family, 1 must at once 
confess my inability to do it in a manner satisfactory to myself. They have been 
yet comparatively unstudied ; and the organs of greatest importance have been 
seemingly most neglected. Neither my own collection, nor tiiose accessible in 
Britain, contain sufficient materials to decide upon. I will, therefore, consider any 
attempt now to divide them, in the words of Mr. Swainson, '' as somewhat specula- 
tive, and certainly not warranted by any evidence that has yet been brought for- 
ward on the subject." The names are applied, then, on the authority of ornitholo- 
gists of high standing. 

This Owl, and some others, will form the genus Noctua of Savigny and Cuvier, 
and are closely allied to the Surnia of Dumeril. In fact, the characters of the lat- 
ter appear to me to agree better than those of Noctua ; and Lesson says, " Les 



300 AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. 



AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. — FALCO SPARVERIUS.— 
Fig. 146. — Male. 

Little Hawk, Arct. Zool. 211, No. 110. — Emerillon de Cayenne, Buff. i. 291. 
PL enl. No. 444. — La«/i. i. WO. — PeaLe's Museum, No. 340. 

FJlLCO SPARVERIUS. — 'Lij.ysivs. 

Falco sparverius, Bonap. Synop. p. 27. — Falco sparverius, Little Rusty-crowned 
Falcon, North. Zool. ii. p. 31. 

The female of this species has been already figured and described 
at page 171 of this work. As they differ considerably in the mark- 
ings of their plumage, the male is introduced here, (Fig. 146.) 

The male Sparrow Hawk measures about ten inches in length, and 
twenty-one in extent ; the whole upper parts of the head are of a fine 
slate blue, the shafts of the plumage being black, the crown excepted, 
which is marked with a spot of bright rufous ; the slate tapers to a 
point on each side of the neck ; seven black spots surround the head, 
as in the female, on a reddish white ground, which also borders each 
sloping side of the blue ; front, lores, line over and under the eye, 

chevpches ne se font pas reconnaitre tres nettement des chouettes." The Snowy 
Owl feeds by day, as well as by night, and is much more active than the night- 
feeding birds ; it approaches nearer to the Hawk Owls. The head is less ; the tail 
and wings, elongated ; and the plumage is more compact and rigid. It appears to 
extend as far north in America as any inhabited country, and is found in the coldest 
districts of Europe. It is also mentioned by Pennant to reach beyond the Asiatic 
frontier to the hot latitude of Astracan, {a contrast, if it should turn out the same, 
species,) and was discovered to breed in Orkney and Shetland by Mr. Bullock, 
who procured several specimens. Its visits to the mainland of Britain are, again, 
more rare ; indeed, I believe one of the only instances on record is that of a male 
and female killed near Rothbury, in Northumberland, in January, 1823, — a winter 
remarkable for a severe snow-storm. They were killed on an open moor, in a 
wqld and rocky part of the country, and were generally seen perched upon the 
snow, or upon some large stone projecting from it. Both now form beautilUl speci- 
mens in the collection of Mr. Selby. 

They become very familiar in winter, approaching close to the dwellings of the 
Indians. In Lapland, they are shot with ball when hunting after moles and lem- 
mings ; and in that country, like many other Owls, they are looked upon with su- 
perstition. They utter a sound at night, when perched, like the grunting of pigs, 
which, by the common and uninformed people, is thought to be some apparition or 
spectre. By Hearne the Snow Owl is said to be known to watch the Grouse 
shooters a whole day, for the purpose of sharing in the spoil. On such occasions, 
it perches on a high tree, and when a bird is shot, skims down, and carries it off 
before the sportsman can get near it. We have the following remarks by Dr. 
Richardson, in the Northern Zoolos:y : — '' Frequents most of the arctic lands that 
have been visited, but retires with the Ptarmigan, on which it preys, to more shel- 
tered districts in winter ; hunts by day. When I have seen it on the barren 
grounds, it was generally squatting on the earth; and if put up, it alighted again 
after a short flight, but was always so wary as to be approached with difficulty. 
In woody districts, it shows less caution. 1 have seen it pursue the American 
hare on the wing, making repeated strokes at the animal with its feet. In winter, 
when this Owl is fat, the Indians and white residents in the Fur Countries esteem 
it to be good eating. Its flesh is delicately white." By the Cree Indians it is 
called Wapow-keelhoo, or Wapahoo ; by the Esquimaux. Oookpeeguakj by the 
Norwegians, Lemensgrtts and Gysfugl ; by the Swedes, Harfang. — Ed. 



AMERICAN SPARROW HAWK. 801 

chin, and throat, white ; femoral and vent-featliers, yellowish white ; 
the rest of the lower parts, of the same tint, each feather heing 
streaked down the centre with a long black drop; those on the breast, 
slender, on the sides, larger; upper part of the back and scapulars, 
deep reddish bay, marked with ten or twelve transverse waves of 
black ; whole wing-coverts and ends of the secondaries, bright slate, 
spotted with black ; primaries and upper half of the secondaries, 
black, tipped with Avhite, and spotted on their inner vanes with the 
same ; lower part of the back, the rump, and tail-coverts, plain bright 
bay ; tail rounded, the two exterior feathers white, their inner vanes 
beautifully spotted with black ; the next, bright bay, with a broad 
band of black near its end, and tipped for half an inch with yellowish 
white ; part of its lower exterior edge, white, spotted with black, and 
its opposite interior edge, touched with white; the whole of the others 
are very deep red bay, with a single, broad band of black near the 
end, and tipped with yellowish white ; cere and legs, yellow ; orbits, 
the same ; bill, light blue ; iris of the eye, dark, almost black ; claws, 
blue black. 

The character of this corresponds with that of the female, given at 
large in page 171. I have reason, however, to believe, that these 
birds vary considerably in the color and markings of their plumage 
during the first and second years ; having met with specimens every 
way corresponding with the above, except in the breast, which was a 
plain rufous white, without spots ; the markings on the tail also differing 
a little in different specimens. Thesa 1 uniformly found, on dissection, 
to be males ; from the stomach of one of which I took a considerable 
part of the carcass of a Robin, [Turdus migmtorius,) including the 
unbroken feet and claws ; though the Robin actually measures within 
half an inch as long as the Sparrow Hawk.* 

* Bonaparte has separated the small American Falcons from the larg-er kinds, 
characterizing the group as having the wings shorter than the tail, tarsi scutellaled; 
and Mr. Swanison says, that the group seems natural, differing somewhat in their 
manners from the larger Falcons, and having analogies in iheir habits to tlie Shrikes. 

With both these we agree. It is long since we thought the general form and 
habits of our Common Kestrel — analogous to Wilson's bird in Europe — ditifered 
from those of the true Falcons, as much, certainly, as Astiir does from Accipiter, 
and both should be only by subordinate divisions. The manner of suspending itself 
in the air is exactly similar to that of our Windhover ; and I am not aware that this 
peculiar manner of hunting is made use of by any other of the Falconidce, with the 
exception of the Kestrels, that is, those of Europe or Africa, F. rupiccla, tirmncu- 
loides, &LC. The true Falcons survey the ground by extensive sweeps, or a rapid 
flight, and stoop at once on their prey with the velocity and force of lightning 5 the 
others quietly watch their quarry when suspenrled or perched on a bare emuience 
or tree in the manner described, and take it by surprise. Insects, reptiles, and 
small animals form part of their food ; and to the old falconists they were known 
by the name of " Ignoble." The whole of the Kestrels are very familiar, easily 
tamed, and when in confinement become even playful. Their great breeding place 
is steep rocks, clothed with ivy, and fringed with the various wild plants incident to 
the different climes ; in the chinks and hearts of these they nestle, often in security' 
from any clamberer that has not the assistance of a rope ; though the appearance 
of a stranger immediately calls forth peculiarly shrill and timid notes of alarm. 
When the young are hatched, and partly advanced, they may be seen stretching out 
from their hole 3 and, on the appearance of their parent, mutual greetings are heard, 
and in a tone at once different from those before mentioned. "Our native species, 
in addition to rocks, delights in ruined buildings as a breeding place 3 and it is re- 

26 



303 ROUGH-LEGGED FALCON. 

ROUGH-LEGGED FALCON —FALCO LAGOPUS. — Fig. 147. 

Arct. Zool. p. 200, No. 92. — Lath. i. 15. — Peak's Museum, No. 116. 

BUTEO LjiOOPUS. — BECHSTEijfi 

Rough-le^g-ed Falcon, Mont. Ornith. Diet. Supp. — Beio. Br. Birds, Supp. — 
Rough-legged Buzzard, Selby's ILlust. Br. Ornith. i. p. 20, pi. 7. — Falco lago- 
pus, Temm. Man. i. p. 65. — Bonap. Synop. p. 32. — Buteo lagopus, Flem. Br. 
Anim. p. 34. — North. Zool. ii. p. 52. 

This handsome species, notwithstanding its formidable size and ap- 
pearance, spends the chief part of the winter among our low swamps 
and meadows, watching for mice, frogs, lame ducks, and other inglo- 
rious game. Twenty or thirty individuals of this family have regularly 
taken up their winter quarters, for several years past, and probably 
long anterior to that date, in the meadows below this city, between 
the Rivers Delaware and Schuylkill, where they spend their time watch- 
ing along the dry banks like cats ; or sailing low and slowly over the 
surface of the ditches. Though rendered shy from the many attempts 
made to shoot them, they seldom fly far, usually from one tree to another 
at no great distance, making a loud squealing as they arise, something 
resembling the neighing of a young colt, though in a more shrill and 
savage tone. 

The bird represented in Fig. 147 was one of this fraternity ; and 
several others of the same association have been obtained and exam- 
ined during the present winter. On comparing these with Pennant's 
description, referred to above, they correspond so exactly, that no doubts 
remain of their being the same species. Towards the beginning of 

markable, that perhaps more Kestrels build and bring to maturity their young in 
London, than in any space of the same dimensions : the breeding-places there are 
the belfries of the different churches, where neither the bustle beneath, nor \he jingle 
of the bells, seems to have any effect upon them. 

We have the ibllowing characteristic observations on this species in the Northern 
Zoology : — 

" In the vicinity of Carlton House, where the plains are beautifully ornamented 
by numerous small clumps of aspens, that give a rich, picturesque effect to the land- 
scape, which I have never seen equalled in an English park, this small Falcon was fre- 
quently dis